IRVINE, Ca. (November 3, 2018) — Phoenix Rising FC clinched the Western Conference Final following a 2-1 win over Orange County SC in front of a sellout crowd made up mostly of Phoenix Rising fans. The club moves on to the USL Cup Final to take on Louisville City FC in Louisville on Thursday, November 8, at 6 p.m. Arizona time. The match will be broadcasted on ESPN2.
The Western Conference Championship, and a trip to the USL Cup Final, is a first in club history.
Phoenix raced out of the gate in record-breaking time after forward Chris Cortez scored the first goal of the night in the 2nd minute. The goal was a USL playoff record for quickest goal in a match and it made the score 1-0.
Rising FC held on to the 1-0 lead into halftime and through the beginning of the second half until the 73rd minute when forward Didier Drogba scored to give the club a 2-0 lead. It's his third goal in as many playoff matches for the club. This marks his first playoff game-winning for Phoenix.
Orange County pulled back within one goal thanks to a late 82nd-minute goal from Koji Hashimoto.
Orange County had a final chance to draw even seven minutes into stoppage time during a free kick. After the ball was served into the box, it bounced around and deflected off several bodies before a final shot went screaming toward the target. But goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski was there to grab the shot and seal the win.
Phoenix Rising plans to host a watch party at Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex this Thursday. Details for the party will be released later.