Phoenix Rising 2-2 Swope Park Rangers, late goal secures draw


Jeremy Beren/SCC

Phoenix Rising players warm up prior to the match against Swope Park Rangers on April 21, 2018.

Jeremy Beren, Reporter

A fiery late-game crescendo brought to life a sleepy fixture between Phoenix Rising and Swope Park Rangers, as Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex played host to a 2-2 draw on Saturday night.

Turks and Caicos Islands international Billy Forbes notched the opening goal for Rising after a cautious first half before the 2017 USL Cup runners-up roared back — Rangers forward Kharlton Belmar scored twice to hand his side the lead, and it seemed as if Swope Park would take all three points before Solomon Asante’s long-range goal assured a draw for the hosts.

“I think that it was a valiant effort just to get the tie back, so I’m happy we did that because that’s the kind of attacking power we have,” right back Devante Dubose said. “However, we always expect three points at home.”

 The first half was a tight affair with limited chances — the two teams managed just one shot on target between them, the first 45 minutes passed without a goal. There were two halfway decent penalty appeals inside the first 20 minutes — Rangers forward Hadji Barry tripped in the box on 14 minutes, while Forbes’ rampaging run from the halfway on 20 minutes resulted in him going down, but the referee gave nothing. Swope Park began to take control after Rising’s initial ball domination and ended the first half with 70 percent possession, trying to craft chances through full backs Parker Maher and Colton Storm. But it was Rising midfielder Kevon Lambert’s gilt-edged chance from a 26th minute set piece which stood as the best opportunity for either side.

“First half, it’s usually you get to test and see what they’re [the opponent] gonna bring,” Forbes said. “Second half was more like ‘okay, guys, we can play, let’s go after it and try to win this game.’”

But this second half began much the way the first half ended. Rangers had the vast majority of possession and Rising dropped deep in response. Despite the number of players sitting deep in defense, Rising proved to be more dangerous on the counterattack. That transition threat would be realized when winger Forbes stabbed home an Asante cross on 66 minutes.

Forbes’ second goal of the season kicked off a breathless final half hour of play, and Rangers responded to the goal almost immediately. Just four minutes later, Belmar rose highest to thump in a corner and level the scores at one apiece. The visitors resumed their control of the match without generating any real chances, as the second half entered its dying minutes it looked as if the game would peter out into a draw. But Belmar bagged his brace — shirt removal included — after dribbling through several defenders and slotting past Woszczynski.

Rising had one last card to play, however. Man of the match Forbes laid off a pass for Asante, who hit a right-footed bullet into the goal, stunning Adrian Zendejas and Rangers. There would be no more goals but the fireworks continued into stoppage time, when a cynical tackle saw Lambert sent off.

Coach Patrice Carteron was not overly disappointed in the performance and stressed better results will come if his team’s spirit remains consistent.

“No matter if we play home or away, we have to keep on progressing this way,” Carteron said.

Rising’s second draw of the season brings their record to 3-2-1, and Carteron’s men next will host Fresno FC on April 28.

Rising XI: Woszczynski; Dubose, Mala, Da Fonte, Dia; Lambert, Musa (substitution Fernandez 86’); Forbes, Awako (Johnson 65’), Asante; Cortez (Frater 81’).

Goals: Forbes 66’, Asante 90’

 Swope Park Rangers XI: Zendejas; Storm, Didic, Smith, Maher; Hernandez (Minter 71’), Saravia, Kuzain; Belmar, Blackwood (Benitez, , Barry.

Goals: Belmar 70’ 88’