Phoenix Rising FC (13-3-5, 44 points) handed Tacoma Defiance its first home loss of the season on Sunday with a 3-1 victory at Cheney Stadium. Darren Mattocks scored twice in his first start for the Western Conference leaders, while Santi Moar added his team-leading tenth goal of the season.
Rising now begins a run of three matches in eight days, Saturday when it faces LA Galaxy II in Carson, California. Phoenix will look to build on its club record for most consecutive regular-season wins against any opponent, eying its 13th straight victory against LA.
Rising and Galaxy II will meet for the third time this season, with the first two matches going heavily to Phoenix, who secured 5-0 and 3-0 victories at Wild Horse Pass in July.
While LA sits in second-to-last place in the Pacific Division with a 6-10-5 record, its explosive offense has been a bright spot all season. Galaxy II's 36 goals are tied for sixth most in the USL Championship. LA's porous defense has cost the team points, resulting in a -6 goal differential. Los Dos has conceded 42 goals, fifth most in the league, and has given up three or more goals on seven occasions this year.
"[They're a] very good attacking team," said Rising head coach Rick Schantz. "They like to shoot. They like to be in one-on-one situations. They like to go forward. They've just struggled a bit defensively. For us, it's going to be about taking advantage of the opportunities we get and trying to limit their chances."
Phoenix, who leads the league in shots taken and is second in goals, certainly has the firepower to put Galaxy II under immense pressure. On the defensive end, Rising will have to shut down LA's leading goal-scorer, Preston Judd, as well as league's leader in chances created, Jorge Hernández.
Rising may be without the services of its captain, Solomon Asante once again due to a hamstring strain. The captain had two goals and three assists in the first two matches against LA this season. Luckily for Phoenix, Mattocks opened his scoring account in a big way last time out.
"We told him he needed to start fast last match because we weren't sure about his fitness level," said Schantz. "Man, he didn't waste any time getting started. He's explosive. He has great hops. I didn't realize how great he is in the air. Now, we know what he can do."