Carson, CA- Phoenix Rising FC looked to get back into winning ways in Southern California against rivals Los Dos, the USL affiliate for LA Galaxy. In front of over 2,000 fans at the StubHub Center Track and Field Stadium, the Firebirds did just that, bagging a 2-1, come-from-behind victory.
Rising Starting XI: GK- Cohen, D- Vasquez, Stewart, Ramage, Gibbons, MF- Watson, Timm, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Avila, F- Cortez, Johnson.
Los Dos Starting XI: GK- Diop, D- Turner, Castellanos, Arellano, Turnley, MF- Lassiter, Vera, Zanga, Zubak, F- McBean, Villareal.
Match Summary: Things started quickly in the early moments, as both sides had excellent 1-v-1 chances denied within the first four minutes. First, Los Dos’ Jack McBean was denied by Josh Cohen, then Rising FC striker Jason Johnson’s left-footed effort was stopped by French ‘keeper Clement Diop.
In the 10th minute, Rising FC came even closer to breaking the deadlock. First, Johnson fired a well-placed shot that forced Diop to parry the ball to his left. Matt Watson cleverly got to the rebound moments later, then slid it back for new signing Eric Avila, who blasted his shot against the crossbar from inside 10 yards.
Los Dos made the Firebirds pay in the 13th minute, when Ethan Zubak ran past Victor Vasquez, before passing back to Ariel Lassiter to slot it home from six yards out.
Rising FC tried to equalize, and Shaun Wright-Phillips forced Hugo Arellano into a yellow card in the 21st minute. Wright-Phillips neatly dribbled past the Los Dos defender, who pushed him down to prevent a 1-v-1 chance. Chris Cortez could not do anything with the ensuing free kick. Cortez missed the target again three minutes later, and Miguel Timm added to the visitors’ frustrations by picking up a yellow in the 30th minute.
Phoenix did equalize in the 32nd minute with a well-worked goal. Wright-Phillips evaded two defenders outside the box before passing to Johnson on the left wing, and Johnson played a sharp ball into the box for Avila to score his first goal with Phoenix.
The fast-paced action continued after Rising FC equalized. On a quick free kick in the 37th minute, Chris Cortez made a long run before forcing Diop into a smart save. Both teams had success playing long balls in the first half, as seen in the 42nd minute when Josh Turnley nearly found Ariel Lassiter with a dangerous cross.
On the brink of halftime, Jordan Gibbons suffered an injury, and needed to be subbed out for Kody Wakasa. The half ended 1-1, but players continued jawing at each other after the halftime whistle.
PRFC won a free kick in the 47th minute, but Cortez again skied the effort. Los Dos fans thought their side had scored in the 52nd minute, but Jack McBean was correctly ruled offside. In the 59th minute, Rising created an excellent chance when Avila and Wright-Phillips combined to set Watson up for a shot that was blocked away for a corner.
On the corner, Eric Avila worked his way into the box and won a penalty after being brought to the ground. Jason Johnson’s penalty was not pretty, but Diop could not get enough of a touch to keep the shot out.
Los Dos responded, and Matt Watson picked up a yellow in the 64th for his challenge on Jack McBean. Subs then came in for both sides. Justin Dhillon entered for Los Dos, while AJ Gray replaced Avila for Phoenix. Both sides put shots on target in the 69th minute, but neither Lassiter nor Wright-Phillips could produce a goal. Gray picked up another yellow in the 75th for Phoenix, but McBean’s free kick deflected ominously wide of the left post.
Los Dos brought on its final sub when Jean Engola replaced Turnley. However, Rising FC was able to weather the storm in the ensuing minutes by controlling possession. Andre Zanga picked up a yellow in the 86th minute, but he nearly atoned for it with a strike that almost found the top corner in the 89th. Los Dos provided some nervy moments for the Rising in added time, but Phoenix held on for a gritty road win.