Rising Match Preview Presented by NAU
Phoenix Rising FC is back at Wild Horse Pass this weekend following a two-game, 5,156-mile road trip that resulted in a pair of one-goal losses.
The fourth and fifth single-goal losses this season has the club below the playoff line at 7-9-0, but still just two wins out of sixth place in the West and three wins out of third place.
“The results have been surprising,” said midfielder Joey Calistri. “We didn’t expect to be in this position at this point in the season but we’re a family. The bond is incredible between the players and the staff. That’s what is motivating for us. We know we want to win for each other, for the guy next to us, for the coaches, the fans, everybody. That’s what has been a pleasant surprise through all of it. We’re sticking together. We can fight through anything.”
The silver lining is the team’s offense, which has produced five goals in the last two matches.
“Confidence is still really high,” said Calistri. “We still have everything we need. We know that. We go into each game with the mentality that this is the match where we turn it around. We need a 90-minute performance where we are focused and concentrated throughout. Once we’re consistent for the full 90 minutes, we’ll see the rewards of all our hard work.”
In a similar position, Orange County SC come into this weekend’s match with a record of 4-8-5. Only one of OCSC’s wins have come on the road, a 2-1 win against Rio Grande Valley on March 19 in which the Toros went down to 10 men after Emilio Ycaza was shown a red card in the 55th minute.
“Orange County is still a really good team with a lot of talent,” said Rising head coach Rick Schantz. “Both Iloski’s are really good players. They’re solid defensively. Their goalkeeper is very good. Their coach, Richard Chaplow pushes them, I am sure. He is very motivated with a lot of energy. It’ll be a difficult game.”
If Rising can get a result this weekend and build off it to regain the form it has enjoyed the past four seasons, Phoenix will be in a position to peak at just the right time – heading into the postseason.
“After the 20-game win streak, there was a bit of a rough patch,” said Calistri. “Now, it’s just about moving up the table collecting points. We need to play better each week and by the end of the season, hopefully we’re rolling.”