Phoenix Rising FC (4-5-0, 12 pts., 12th in West) vs. Whitecaps FC 2 (4-5-2, 14 pts., 9th in West)
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex, Scottsdale
TV: YouTube, YurView Arizona (Cox 7, 1007 HD)
Fresh off a 3-2 loss Tuesday at Taft Stadium in Oklahoma City against Energy FC, Phoenix Rising FC returns to the friendly confines of the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex as it welcomes Whitecaps FC 2 for a Western Conference USL match in what will be the debut for new head coach Patrice Carteron and striker Didier Drogba.
Carteron had his first workout with the team on Thursday and was pleased with the early results, but knows he also has a lot of work to do ahead of him.
“I know what to do for the team’s progress and I couldn’t do it, I could give advice, but to give advice is not in us,” Carteron said. “I’m so happy to be here to help the club to grow. I will give my best to have a fantastic result this season.
“At the moment our position is not too good in my opinion, we must do much better than this. We must change the attitude. I want our players to be competitive every week and not just sometimes. So we are going to change some things but I really feel that there is a lot of potential in this team. We have players with a lot of experience and some young players and I’m sure all of us all together are going to work as a team and progress in the next weeks.”
Carteron pointed out some things that he is expecting from this team right after his first session.
“I think at the moment we need to play with more intensity in the game,” Carteron said. “We are playing quite good, but we are not fast enough in my opinion. We must play faster, we must also be better organized defensively. because at the moment we cannot accept that from the start we didn’t have any clean sheets.
“A lot of work, but also I want them to progress, but have a lot of pleasure.”
Drogba is also ready for his debut on Saturday.
“I’m very excited,” Drogba said. “It’s gonna be the first to play here on this field actually, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Drogba has seen the up and downs of this team early in the season and hopes the effort to come will be appreciated by the fans.
“It’s up to us (the boys) to keep them (the fans) happy,” Drogba said. “We have to give them what they want, we have to fight, even when you lose, the most important thing is to give everything, and make sure that the fans stay till the end of the game, because the end of the game is the most important part.”
Drogba doesn’t want to be looked at as another guy on the squad, he wants to make an impact on the team.
“I don’t want people to look at me as just another player on the team,” Drogba said. “I want to inspire people. I want them to learn from my experience and at the same time I want them to feel comfortable playing with me and I need to be comfortable playing with them.
“Football is a game where you need to have fun. So when I’m there, I’m like a kid every time I see the ball rolling and I want to enjoy with them and hope we’re going to have a lot of great moments. For sure we’re going to have difficult times, and that’s life. I think football is representing life at its best.”
Carteron is thrilled to be debuting in front of the home crowd on Saturday.
“I’m so proud to be there,” “We have fantastic fans at the moment: La Furia Roja and Los Banditos, I know they love football. I will give my best for them to give them pleasure every time we’re going to play there. But more than the pleasure I want to give them, I want them to be proud of the players. Of course we want to win all the games, but sometimes we won’t win, but I want them to be proud and I want them to feel we give our best. That it’s more important if your fans feel you give your best they will support you anytime when the result is not that good.”
NOTES: Phoenix Rising announced the signing of defender Amadou Dia and goalkeeper Nolan Wirth on Friday.
Dia was the 29th pick of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft by Sporting Kansas City. He appeared in 22 matches in his rookie season with Sporting KC, and had one assist. He spent the first half of 2016 with Sporting KC, and finished the season with the Montreal Impact.
Wirth was a former Whitecaps FC residency player and spent the preseason with Whitecaps FC 2, but went unsigned by the club.
POSSIBLE STARTING LINEUP
D- Dia, Ramage, Stewart, Wakasa
MF- Bravo, Avila, Wright-Phillips
GK-Woszczynksi; D- Granger, Uzo; MF- Johnson, Arreola, Gavin; F- Seth