Phoenix Rising FC dominate match over San Antonio FC


Jake Anderson

Phoenix Rising won on a late corner kick Saturday night

Jake Anderson, Reporter

The Phoenix Rising (13-5-6) set off to win their second consecutive match Wednesday night as they hosted the San Antonio FC (9-7-7).

The Rising took control of the game from the kickoff.

Defender Doueugui Mala could have put Phoenix up in the early stages of the match, but failed to capitalize on two opportunities, one of which was saved by San Antonio goalkeeper, Diego Restrepo.

Phoenix Rising FC fans did not have to wait long for a goal, as forward Chris Cortez found the back of the net in the 18th minute to give the Rising a 1-0 lead following midfielder Kevon Lambert’s ground cross from the end line for the easy tap in.

SAFC goalkeeper, Diego Restrepo, gifted the Rising a goal in the 27th minute by turning the ball over to Rising captain, Solomon Asante, outside of the box that resulted in an empty net goal to put Rising FC up 2-0.

Shortly after Asante’s goal, the Rising captain was taken off the pitch with an apparent hamstring injury in the 33rd minute.

“It was just a tight hamstring,” said manager Rich Schantz after the game.  “We talked before the game that if he felt anything to let us know. He probably could’ve pushed through it if we really needed him, but we have some important games coming up, so we might need to give him a little bit of a rest.”

Rising forward, Jason Johnson, seen as a “super-sub” by many, came in for the injured Asante and did not miss a beat. Within 10 minutes of entering the match, Johnson started an attack that gave midfielder Devin Vega two opportunities to score, as San Antonio goalkeeper, Diego Restrepo, made two excellent saves from point blank to keep the scoreline at 2-0.

Phoenix Rising FC would not be denied—as forward Jason Johnson was the spearhead on a dangerous attack involving teammate Devin Vega once again—but Vega would not be deprived as Johnson’s pass across the top of the box saw Vega flick the ball up to himself to set up a left-footed volley that was rifled passed the SAFC goalkeeper to give Phoenix a commanding 3-0 lead shortly before halftime.

San Antonio FC struggled to get many of its shots on target. Their best chance of the night came early in the second half, as midfielder Omar Gordon’s header from short distance was met by an acrobatic reaction save by Rising goalkeeper, Zach Lubin.

This was Lubin’s second consecutive start and clean sheet following teammate Carl Woszczynski’s recent run of poor performances.

“We had given up 13 goals in five games,” Schantz said.

“I spoke with Carl (Woszczynski); I love (Woszczynski); he’s an unbelievable teammate. I told him I had to go with Zach (Lubin) to make a change and Zach performed well on the road in Vegas and he got the start tonight and he performed well again. If they perform, they keep playing. I can rotate the other guys, but it’s a little hard to do with the goalkeepers. Zach just has to stay confident and everybody has to stay calm. He has two shutouts in a row. I’d be the worst coach in the league if I switched the keepers now.”

Phoenix put the game beyond reach in the 64th minute, as forward Billy Forbes played a one-two with teammate Jason Johnson at the top of the box that lead to Forbes’ left-footed strike that the SAFC goalkeeper had little chance of stopping; and gave the Rising a 4-0 lead.

“Good things happen when you work hard,” said forward Billy Forbes after the game. “This is something we worked on in practice, so it’s something (Jason Johnson) knows: you pass the ball and we check in to get the ball (back). I think he was at the right place at the right time. I passed him the ball. He trapped it well. He passed it back and I hit it really well, so it was a good goal for me. I wanted to score tonight because my aunt just passed away and I’m going to the funeral on Saturday, so I just wanted to score for her.”

While the Rising remain in third place in the western conference, it has made up ground on second place Orange County FC and distanced itself from fourth place Sacramento Republic FC, both of which have played an extra game than the Rising.

Phoenix will have a short turn around, as it will host Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC on Saturday, August 25, at 7:30 p.m. in Scottsdale at the Phoenix Rising FC Soccer Complex.