The field was blessed by a member of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.
Owner Berke Bakay told the fans that this was just the beginning of something bigger.
But somebody forgot to tell Toronto FC II they weren’t supposed to spoil the party.
A seventh-minute goal by forward Ryan Telfer was all that Toronto needed, as they defeated Phoenix Rising FC 1-0 in front of a record 6,890 fans at the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex Saturday night.
“They (Toronto) moved the ball quite sharply,” Phoenix Rising head coach Frank Yallop said. “I said to the guys at halftime, we didn’t really pass the ball well at all, in the first half I didn’t think so, and I think that they did, and that was the difference in the game to be honest.
“I’d say the chances were quite even. They had a few, we had a few. But their general play was a little sharper than ours…Hopefully it’s just a one-off for us and we will go back to work on Tuesday and then we’ll take it from there.”
The chances Yallop referenced were few, but had the fans clamoring for more.
It started in the ninth minute, when defender Victor Vasquez crossed a ball into the middle of the 18-yard box for midfielder Shaun Wright-Phillips, whose header landed right into the arms of goalkeeper Mark Pais.
Pais was tested again in the 48th minute, when a flick on from forward Mike Seth was saved. Midifelder Luke Rooney tested Pais in the 51st minute with a curling free kick from 35 yards, but Pais was up to the test by catching the dropping free kick.
“We still got to come together as one, but we had a couple opportunities, we just needed to capitalize on some of those, going forward from here on out,” Seth said.
Wright-Phillips again floated a free kick in the 72nd minute, but Pais again came up with the save.
Phoenix Rising had one final chance in the closing moments, but a Peter Ramage header from an Alessandro Riggi set piece went wide.
“I think the subs did quite well,” Yallop said. “(Alessandro) Riggi and Chris (Cortez) were both lively. We looked a little bit tired from the emotional side of things, I think. I’ll have to ask the guys but I think they got maybe tied up in the whole home-opener, big night for everybody here, and we came out a little flat in our general zippiness.
“We are still getting fit, we’ve had a few guys injured here and there, which has sort of set us back, but it’s not excuses. We should be ready to go, but I just think most of the group were a little bit mentally tired tonight.”
Takeaways: Goalkeeper Josh Cohen played solid in net. Nothing he could do to stop the early goal. Made a couple key saves in the middle of the game. Defense held its own. Vasquez got turned around on a couple of plays on the left, as did newcomer Kody Wakasa on the right. The midfield was cluttered, as players seemed to be playing out of position, like Rooney playing deeper in the midfield and Wright-Phillips seemed to hang a lot around the circle. Most of the midfielders were playing deep, which made getting balls to Omar Bravo and Seth tough all night.
Next game: Saturday, Apr. 1 at Real Monarchs SLC, 3 p.m.