Rising Match Preview Presented by NAU
Rising bounced back from its first home defeat at Wild Horse Pass by breaking another’s home-unbeaten streak, winning 2-0, in San Antonio on April 2. The side played again on Wednesday, outlasting Valley United FC, 1-0, in overtime to advance to the third round of the 2022 U.S. Open Cup. The win got the job done, but it wasn’t one Rising head coach Rick Schantz was thrilled about.
“Everything we did well in San Antonio, we did the opposite [vs. Valley United FC],” said Schantz following the match. “We didn’t play with urgency. We didn’t play with conviction. With a few minutes left in the second overtime, we finally played like our backs were against the wall. That’s what we have been doing the first three games of this season.”
Now, Rising faces an LA Galaxy II (Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Wild Horse Pass) side that is both youthful and rested. Phoenix on the other hand, will be playing its third game in eight days. Rising also picked up an injury to its 2021 Golden Boot Winner Santi Moar vs. Valley United.
“It looks like an ankle sprain,” said Schantz about Moar on Wednesday night. “Hopefully small, first degree.”
If Moar cannot go on Saturday, he’ll join a growing list of wounded players that includes defenders James Musa, Baboucar Njie and Niall Dunn. Light on defenders, Joe Farrell (360) has played every minute for Phoenix this season. That total doesn’t include the 120 minutes he logged vs. Valley United on Wednesday.
Kevon Lambert is the silver lining for Phoenix. The Jamaican sat out Wednesday’s contest and will be well-rested by kickoff on Saturday after playing a huge role as a first-time center back in the shutout win against San Antonio.
Despite “winning ugly” on last time out, Phoenix’s victory was the team’s second consecutive shutout – a stark turnaround for a team that allowed seven goals in three matches in March. On the other side of the pitch, LA comes into Saturday’s match having scored at least once in every game this season. While a goal-per-game average won’t break Rising’s league record for goals in a season (89 in 2019), LA is getting its goals from a wide array of players.
“Preston Judd is a dynamite player,” said Schantz. “We really like him. He is big, powerful and fast. LA’s wings are technical and fast. Liam Dole has added an element of experience. They’ll try to outnumber us in the midfield. It will be a good test for us. They’re not going to come in here with any fear.”