Phoenix Rising FC (2-3-0, 6 pts., 11th in West) vs. OKC Energy FC (1-3-1, 5 pts., 13th in West)
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex
TV: You Tube stream, YurView Arizona (Cox 7, 1007 HD)
After enduring its worst loss of the season last week, 4-0 to Reno 1868 FC, Phoenix Rising FC hopes to get back on track Saturday as OKC Energy FC comes to town as Phoenix Rising completes its four-game homestand.
Interim head coach Rick Schantz was happy with the team’s mood and work ethic in training this week.
“The mood has been really good actually,” Schantz said. “It’s super-important at this level to put things behind you quickly. You’ve got to have a short memory.
“It wasn’t fatal, and it’s time to move on. They’ve got to come out and perform and I do expect a big difference this weekend.”
Forward Chris Cortez echoed the sentiments of Schantz.
“I think the mood’s great, everyone’s reacted properly,” Cortez said. “The loss is already forgotten, We’re already done about it. We’ve only been focusing on Oklahoma City this week.”
Schantz knows where the mistakes leading to the four Reno goals came from.
“It’s a little bit more tactical and not as much technical,” Schantz said. “Those were basic mistakes that I’m sure Shaun Wright-Phillips isn’t going to pass the ball into the other team in the midfield again. He knew right away.
“The second ball in the back four, stepping and pressing, those things aren’t going to happen very often. For us as a group, it was deciding do we need to make changes personnel-wise and shape-wise and what do we need to look at for this week and how best to approach OKC.”
The team has settled into a regular starting XI the past few matches, and the forward tandem of Chris Cortez and Omar Bravo are still working to become one of the league’s top units.
Cortez talked about his recent pairing with Bravo, and what it means to be play alongside him.
“The language thing helps a lot, gives us more of an understanding of each other,” Cortez said of his ability to speak Spanish with Bravo. “That’s very much developing and it’s helping us try and become more and more lethal against any other team.”
Schantz knows how important getting points at home is during the season, especially with this being the final game of the homestand as the team heads out for a U.S,. Open Cup game and three league games on the road.
“Every game it’s important to get points,” Schantz said. “Being at home, you’ve got to be good in this league and you’ve got to get your points. It’s tough to go on the road, I do expect a lot from these guys.”
Oklahoma City comes in after a bye week, and losing 3-0 to Rio Grande Valley. The Energy have only scored three goals in their five matches this season, with Alex Dixon, Coady Andrews and Miguel Gonzalez scoring the goals.
Oklahoma City this week traded Danni Konig to FC Cincinnati for Andy Craven, but Craven is still suspended for three more matches after earning a four-game suspension with FC Cincinnati.
For Oklahoma City, it starts in the back with goalkeeper Cody Laurendi, in his second year with the Energy and fourth year in USL. Laurendi played in 2014 with LA Galaxy II and in 2015 with the Austin Aztex. Then along the back four, it’s Mickey Daly, who spent two years with Sacramento Republic before splitting time with Carolina in the NASL and Bethlehem Steel last season.
In the midfield, the Energy will look to Daniel Gonzalez but will also look to FC Dallas loanee Coy Craft. Craft played 11 games last year with the Energy, logging three goals and one assist on the season.
At the top, Miguel Gonzalez is the player to watch with Konig gone and Craven not eligible for the lineup.
POSSIBLE STARTING XI (4-1-3-2)
D- Wakasa, Stewart, Ramage (c), Vasquez
MF- Watson, Riggi, Rooney, Wright-Phillips
F- Cortez, Bravo
RESERVES: GK-Woszczynski, D- Granger, Gray, Greer; MF- Johnson, Hernandez; F- Hurlow