PHOENIX, Arizona (Friday, Feb. 25) – Phoenix Rising FC split its squad into two groups, downing NISA side, Valley United 5-0, tonight before the second group fought back from a two-goal deficit to draw Detroit City FC, 2-2.
The first match began with Phoenix Rising taking a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute after Arturo Rodriguez and Luis Seijas combined deep down the left flank. The duo passed their way through a trio of Valley United defenders before Seijas picked out the run of Joey Calistri with a low, sharp pass through the six-yard box. Calistri finished off the chance, beating the Valley United goalkeeper to his right side.
Calistri then earned a penalty kick for Rising in the 21st minute. Rodriguez converted the chance, sending the goalkeeper the wrong direction and depositing the ball low and into the corner to make it 2-0.
Rising went ahead 3-0 in the 31st minute on a play that began with left back Baboucarr Njie launching a throw-in down the left sideline. Greg Hurst caught up to the ball, slipped by a defender and set the table for Richmond Antwi to finish off the chance.
Hurst and Antwi combined again in the 45th minute, winning the ball back by picking off a pass between Valley United’s center backs. Antwi made another solid run, angling away from the lone Valley United defender. Hurst found him with a chipped ball and Antwi scored his second of the game in emphatic fashion, volleying a first-touch scorcher past the goalkeeper to make it, 4-0.
Rodriguez set up Hurst to make it 5-0 in the 61st minute. Rising’s No. 10 beat a pair of Valley United defenders on the dribble before crossing midfield and chipping a ball over the top of the center back. Hurst caught up to the pass on the other side of the defender and finished calmly for his first of the game.
PHX – Joey Calistri (Luis Seijas, Arturo Rodriguez) 18
PHX – Arturo Rodriguez (PK) 21
PHX – Richmond Antwi (Greg Hurst, Baboucarr Njie) 31
PHX – Richmond Antwi (Greg Hurst) 45
PHX – Greg Hurst (Arturo Rodriguez) 61
PHX – Darnell King (caution) 27
VU – (caution) 46
VU – (caution) 73
Phoenix Rising FC – Ben Lundt, Baboucarr Njie, Jonathan Levin, Trialist 1, Darnell King, Santi Moar, Luis Seijas, Arturo Rodriguez, Joey Calistri, Richmond Antwi, Greg Hurst.
vs. Detroit City FC
Rising’s second match of the day started off with great saves from the goalkeepers at both ends. Detroit City’s goalkeeper made a pair of saves on Rising’s Claudio Repetto to bookend a one-handed stop of a breakaway attempt by Phoenix’s Lalo Delgado.
Detroit took a 1-0 lead in the 26th minute when a turnover in the back produced a chance for the visitors. Detroit made no mistake as No. 25 took the ball central before cutting a pass back for Francis Atuahene to finish off with his first touch.
Detroit’s No. 7 took over the ball on the left flank and played a long pass to Atuahene in the 30th minute. The Detroit forward made Rising pay once more, finishing off the chance with a hard strike to the far post to make it 2-0.
Rising pulled a goal back in the 66th minute when a sustained period of pressure resulted in a clear cross attempt for Marcus Epps. The midfielder sent in a sharp cross that caught a piece of a Detroit defender and skipped into the back of the net to make it, 2-1.
Phoenix made it a 2-2 game just before head coach Rick Schantz brought in a slew of Phoenix Rising academy players to close out the match. The game-tying goal also started with Epps, who received the ball in the middle of the pitch and swung it out wide to Ryan Flood. Rising’s left back dribbled to the top corner of the area before unleashing a rocket of a shot that zipped past the Detroit goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
Phoenix Rising FC – Lalo Delgado, Ryan Flood, James Musa, Joe Farrell, Channing Chasten, Kevon Lambert, Aodhan Quinn, Trailist 2, Marcus Epps, Ivan Gutierrez, Claudio Repetto.
DC – Francis Atuahene 26
DC – Francis Atuahene 30
PHX – own goal (Marcus Epps) 66
PHX – Ryan Flood (Epps) 76
Rising head coach Rick Schantz
General thoughts on the match…We were very good in the first game because we played simple. When we played one and two touch, the ball movement was fantastic. We had an idea of what to expect with Valley United, but we had no idea how Detroit was going to come out. They were in a 3-5-2. We hadn’t even talked about how to break down a 3-5-2, so we struggled a little bit tactically.
For Channing [Chasten], tonight was a big step up for him. Ryan [Flood] struggled in the first half but he came out with the right mentality in the second half.
Overall, it was a great experience. Tonight, seeing our Under-17/18 team play the last 15 minutes with such confidence. We were praying they were going to put away that last chance and win it. That would have been awesome. I had a chance to talk with them after the game. I told them how proud I was of them. To watch them play in this environment against a team like Detroit and to play with such confidence it amazing. It’s moving in the right direction for Phoenix Rising. The future is even brighter.