Phoenix Rising FC (12-3-5, 41 points) moved into a tie for first place in the USL Championship with a 3-2 victory over New Mexico last weekend at Wild Horse Pass. For the first time this year, Rising came from behind to win as Joey Calistri scored twice and Santi Moar netted the game-winner, his team-leading ninth goal of the season, in the 90th minute.
Rising remains unbeaten at Wild Horse Pass with a record of 8-0-3. The club is away the next two weeks, but returns to Phoenix on Wednesday, September 15, vs. Las Vegas Lights FC.
Phoenix now heads to Tacoma to face the Defiance in its second of four matchups this season. The first meeting, back in Phoenix in June, resulted in a comprehensive, 3-0, win for the home side. Rising got a brace from Solomon Asante and a goal from the newly signed "hometown kid," Tate Schmitt.
Phoenix could be without Asante this time arond. The two-time defending league MVP missed the last two matches with a hamstring injury. The rest of the squad will look to carry over the momentum it built in the second half of the New Mexico match.
"I know our guys can't wait to play again," said Rising head coach Rick Schantz. "The way the New Mexico game ended... There's a lot of really good energy around here. [Tacoma's] a very similar team to New Mexico. They play a very similiar style. The team is agressive with the ball. We really enjoy those type of games."
While Tacoma has struggled on the road (2-5-3) this season, the Defiance boast an unbeaten record at home (6-0-3). Tacoma are on a great run of form, only losing once in its last 10 games. The Defiance sit in second place in the Pacific Division, tied in points (30) with Orange County and San Diego.
Tacoma will be playing its third game in nine days when they host Phoenix, while Rising will have had a full week off between matches. However, after Sunday's match, Phoenix has an even tougher schedule awaiting. The defending Western Conference Champions play three games in eight days starting Sept. 11 and ending with two matches at Wild Horse Pass on Sept. 15 and Sept. 18.