Phoenix Rising continued to experiment with its lineup today, falling, 2-1, in a 90-minute exercise with USL League One opponent Union Omaha. The teams will face one another again this Saturday, March 27 at Wild Horse Pass. That match will also be closed to the public.
Rising started this match on the attack. The team worked the ball around well in midfield before Aodhan Quinn made a nice run in-behind Omaha’s back line in the 12th minute. Quinn was awarded with a through ball played in to his feet, near the end line on the left side. The midfielder chipped a great ball into the box with his first touch and Rufat Dadashov got on the end of the pass, but the forward’s header went directly into the ‘keeper’s hands.
Santi Moar raced 40-yards down the left flank after taking a pass near midfield in the 28th minute. Moar cut inside and tried to beat Union’s goalkeeper to the near post, but the ‘keeper made a solid kick save to keep the match scoreless through the first of three 30-minute sessions.
Rising took a 1-0 lead just three minutes after the break, when Dadashov got on the end of another quality through ball. The pass split Omaha’s defense and Dadashov was in-alone against the ‘keeper. The forward had time to pick up his head and knock a shot past the goalkeeper to make it 1-0 in the 33rd minute.
Unfortunately for Phoenix, Union Omaha notched two goals in the next 20 minutes to leave with a 2-1 win. Omaha’s first goal came via set piece in the 41st minute. The free kick from 30-yards out was curled to the back post, where an Omaha player rose above his marker to deflect a header into the back of the net.
Omaha’s second goal came in the 53rd minute, when a player came free centrally, 25-yards from goal. The player dribbled fast towards the right touchline, before cracking a shot back across his body. The shot eluded the defender, who was trying to front the ball and skipped just outside the reach of goalkeeper Zach Lubin.
Head Coach Rick Schantz
Overall thoughts on the match…
Clinically, we were really poor today. Our build-up play was fantastic. You can see we were trying a few different things with Kevon [Lambert] there in the back. Aodhan Quinn was creative in build-up. He is very good at breaking lines, but our final third is just not there yet.
On the team’s play in the final third…
We’re missing chances. We’re not making the proper runs. We had eight or nine crosses from dangerous positions that ended up being just horrible crosses. We’re trying to float balls in instead of whipping them in with pace. We played a hard, hard working team today in Union Omaha. They played it long a lot of the time, which we’re not used to at all. We couldn’t win any ariel duels.
On the team’s defensive performance…
If you’re not scoring goals, you’re not going to win any games. I’m not even going to worry about defending right now. We just got so frustrated with our lack of finishing that it put us in bad positions and we got exposed.
On not getting results through its first three preseason matches…
We would like to win every game obviously, but we’re only a few weeks into preseason. We still have six weeks before our first game. The season is a marathon, not a sprint. You cannot win a championship in preseason, I promise you.
Our eyes are set on better performances. It’s a little slower than we anticipated, but we’ll be fine. I saw so many bright spots out there today. Things that were a weakness for us in the past, we’re much better at, it’s just that things that are typically strengths for us are just not clicking right now.
What needs to improve?
Our sharpness in the final third needs to improve. We got in-behind [Omaha] quite often. Solo [Asante] got into some dangerous positions. Jon Bakero came out a little too deep and didn’t stay high enough. Rufat [Dadashov] needs to get into the box more and stay there. He was coming back too far to get the ball.
On playing Lambert and Musa together as center backs…
We expected to have a lot of possession of the ball today, so we played Kevon [Lambert] at center back with James Musa. It was fun to see that group together. They were handling any type of pressure really well. That allows our guys up front to take more risks and stay a little higher. From our own goal to Union’s 18, I thought we were very good today, from that point forward we weren’t. That’s why they scored two and we scored only once.
Phoenix Rising Group 1 – Andre Rawls, Deklyn Wynne, James Musa, Kevon Lambert, Darnell King, Aodhan Quinn, Santi Moar, Jon Bakero, Arturo Rodriguez, Solomon Asante, Rufat Dadashov.
Phoenix Rising Group 2 – Trialist 6, Trialist 9, Joe Farrell, Niall Dunn*, Jeremy Kelly, Jacob H.*, Trialist 11, Joey Calistri, Prince Saydee, Trialist 1, Ivan Gutierrez