IRVINE, California (Saturday, October 28) – Phoenix Rising FC has advanced to the Western Conference Final with a 2-1 victory vs. Orange County SC tonight at Championship Soccer Stadium.
Danny Trejo and Emil Cuello scored goals 109 minutes apart to send Rising to its third conference final in the last six seasons. Having knocked out the second and third seeds, Phoenix now travels to Sacramento for a date with the first-seeded Republic on Saturday, November 4.
Tonight, Rising grabbed a 1-0 lead in the seventh minute when Carlos Harvey lobbed a ball forward from midfield, splitting Orange County’s center backs. Trejo latched onto the ball at the top of the area, touching the ball away from a defender and then tapping a short volley around the goalkeeper to give the visitors the early lead.
OC fired back in the 16th minute when Seth Casiple set up Milan Iloski. The 2022 USL Championship Golden Boot Winner cracked a line-drive towards the back post but the rising shot caught just enough of the crossbar to keep it out of the back of the net.
The home side continued to press for an equalizer and converted in the 24th minute when a quick cross found Ryan Doghman alone on the end line, off to the left side of goal. Doghman hit a sharp pass low to the opposite post, where Thomas Amang finished of the chance from close range to make it 1-1.
Rising held a 61-39 edge in possession through the 80th minute of the match but could not trouble OC goalkeeper Colin Shutler outside a pair of goals that were called back for offsides rulings by the official.
In extra time, Rising continued to control the match in the first stanza. Harvey forced a save out of Shutler in the 97th minute and Uzo broke though moments later but could not keep his shot from close range on target.
Cuello hammered home the game winner in the 116th minute after Gallardo beat his man on the left side and slipped a pass inside. Cuello took a touch to get the ball on his left foot, then crushed the golden goal past Shutler to send Phoenix to Sacramento next week for the Western Conference Final.
PHX – Danny Trejo (Carlos Harvey) 7
OC – Thomas Amang (Ryan Doghman) 24
PHX – Emil Cuello (Erickson Gallardo) 116
OC – Kyle Scott (caution) 51
PHX – Alejandro Fuenmayor (caution) 103
PHX – Uzo (caution) 106
Phoenix Rising FC – Rocco Rios Novo, Mo Traore, Alejandro Fuenmayor, John Stenberg, Darnell King (Uzo 70), Jose Andres Hernandez (Renzo Zambrano 90+2), Carlos Harvey (Emil Cuello 106), Eddie Munjoma (Erickson Gallardo 91), Panos Armenakas (Manuel Arteaga 101), Danny Trejo (Daniel Krutzen 118), Dariusz Formella.
Substitutes Not Used: Patrick Rakovsky.
Orange County SC – Colin Shutler, Owen Lambe (Richard Richards 117), Dillon Powers, Marcus Nakkim, Ryan Doghman (Alex Villanueva 118), Seth Casiple (Bryce Jamison 105), Kyle Scott (Kevin Lankford 63), Kevin Partida (Andrew Fox 90+3), Brian Iloski, Milan Iloski, Thomas Amang (Marc McNulty 91).
Substitutes Not Used: Eric Lopez.