Phoenix Rising FC celebrates a Santi Moar goal against Sacramento Republic FC in a 1-0 win at Heart Health Park on May 29, 2021. (Owain Evans Photo)
For the first time in club history, Phoenix Rising FC defeated Sacramento Republic FC on the road.
In fact, PRFC’s 1-0 win at Heart Health Park featured the first goal Rising has scored in Sacramento since 2014 when Phoenix was still Arizona United SC.
“The win is fantastic, but more importantly, we showed that we can go on the road and we can fight games out and we were tough,” manager Rick Schantz told Owain Evans of the club’s first road win of the year. “I thought the boys respected the game plan, they trusted us.
“But most importantly, to get the goal and to defend as well as they did for 25 minutes — (James) Musa was outstanding. And I think the way he controlled the tempo of the game for us — that’s a great sign because these are the type of wins that will get you first place at the end of the year when you have to fight for this. Rather than getting just a point, getting three on the road is unbelievable.”
It was another solid defensive performance from Phoenix Rising — if the team’s first clean sheet on the 2021 USL Championship campaign didn’t tell you that already.
For the fourth time in PRFC’s five matches this season, the club did not allow a shot on target in the first half. And if that wasn’t impressive enough, Sac Republic failed to get a single shot on target over the course of the 90 minutes.
“The biggest thing for me is a zero on the other end tonight,” Schantz said. “It’s been a while since we had a clean sheet so I’m very proud of the boys.”
Phoenix dominated the stat sheet going forward by outshooting Sacramento 13-7 (4-0 on target). However, Sac managed to get seven corner attempts compared to PRFC’s one.
The match was also extremely physical, as 31 total fouls — 15 of which were committed by Rising — resulted in three yellow cards for Rufat Dadashov, Santi Moar and Kevon Lambert.
Schantz made three changes to his starting XI following last week’s 5-1 thrashing of Las Vegas Lights FC.
The head coach elected to start goalkeeper Ben Lundt, center back Tobi Adewole and right back Darnell King while keeping GK Andre Rawls and CB Joey Farrell on the bench. RB Noah Billingsley was left out of the Matchday 18 after suffering a groin injury against Las Vegas.
“In my career a couple times I’ve had such good goalkeepers that I’ve been willing to alternate goalkeepers and as they go through the season, maybe one will separate but I love them both,” Schantz said.
Schantz has yet to make a change to his front six this season. And for good reason, too, as left winger Santi Moar continued his scoring streak with the game’s lone goal in the 62nd minute.
The Spaniard has now scored in all five matches Phoenix has played this season — and including the last regular-season match in 2020 — Moar has found the back of the net in six straight league matches.
— Jake Anderson (@jwa1994) May 30, 2021
Two other players in Schantz’s front six are captain Solomon Asante and midfielder Kevon Lambert, who both made their 93rd career appearance for PRFC on Saturday night to pass goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski for the most caps
in club history.
The win gives Phoenix 12 points out of 15 in the first month of the season and keeps PRFC atop both the Pacific Division and Western Conference tables.
“A 1-0 win is not necessarily a statement, but I think just being four wins from five and top of the table and now creating space in between the teams chasing us — I think that speaks for itself,” Musa told Evans.
“We’re happy, we came here and got what we wanted out of the game, so now the pressure is on the rest of the group to catch up.”
Phoenix Rising returns home to host San Diego Loyal SC on June 5 when the new stadium at Wild Horse Pass will be at 100% capacity for the first time.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. and will be audio broadcast live on ArizonaSports.com and on the Arizona Sports app.