Forward Chris Cortez (middle) celebrates one of his three goals in the club's 2018 home opener. (Photo by Michael Rincon/PHXRisingFC.com)
Editor’s note: The following series takes a look back at the top five matches of the 2018 season in order starting from five to No. 1 one. The first of this series takes a look at the club’s 4-1 win over Oklahoma City FC in the home opener.
There was no way of knowing how special the 2018 season was going to be.
The staff and players believed they had something special (they said as much during preseason interviews) and the fans were expecting the team to at least return to the playoffs thanks to a full offseason with Patrice Carteron building a roster fit to win.
And there were flashes of brilliance in the club’s six preseason matches and one regular season match (a 1-1 feels-like-a-loss draw at Orange County) heading into Rising FC’s home opener.
The club even picked up a win over New York Red Bulls in its final preseason match before traveling to Ecuador, although it was away from home in Tucson.
Fans hadn’t seen the team win in their home stadium in 2018. That changed on March 24.
No one knew it at the time, but the 2018 home opener had a little bit of everything that made the 2018 season so memorable:
Sellout crowd: A total of 6,828 fans came out for the season opener, just the first of a total of 13 sellouts in 2018 (during the regular season and playoffs).
Photo by Michael Rincon/PHXRisingFC.com
A banger goal: The evening’s first goal was courtesy of Solomon Asante, who ripped a blast into the upper 90 from outside of the box. Not only would 2018 be the year of Asante, but it would also be a year full of highlight-reel goals that set the soccer social media world on fire. This goal wound up on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10.
Cortez magic: Chris Cortez’s record-breaking season began with a bang after he netted a hat trick to help nearly single-handedly take down Oklahoma City.
Three points: Oh yeah, and the team won! A common theme in 2018.
And with its first three points in hand, the team was its way to history.