Phoenix Rising FC (7-7-4, 25 pts., 10th in West) at Rio Grande Valley FC (7-10-4, 25 pts., 11th in West)
5:30 p.m., Saturday, H-E-B Park, Edinburg, Texas
TV: YouTube, YurView Arizona (Cox 4, 1004 HD in Phoenix; Cox 7, 1007 HD in Tucson)
After a very busy day on Thursday that saw three new players join Phoenix Rising FC, the club continues its three-match road trip Saturday at Rio Grande Valley FC, a team fighting for a playoff spot as well.
After a big 2-0 win on the road at LA Galaxy II last Saturday night, the team bolstered its roster by first announcing it had acquired Colorado Rapids midfielder Sam Hamilton on loan. Then the team announced the signings of Ivory Coast defender Doueugui Jean Marie Mala and Jamaican midfielder Kevon Lambert.
Alessandro Riggi and Didier Drogba scored in the first half last week to ensure Phoenix Rising of the three points against the Galaxy and will be asked again to take a lead role against Rio Grande. Drogba leads the team with five goals on the season, with Jason Johnson right behind him with four. Phoenix Rising is the ninth worst team in the league in scoring and third worst team in the West with 22 goals on the season.
A win for Phoenix Rising would pull them to within a point of the eighth playoff spot with games in hand, while a loss would be devastating for the club’s playoff hopes.
Rio Grande Valley comes into the contest on the heels of a 4-3 victory over Seattle Sounders 2, ending a six-match winless streak. After giving up three first half goals and trailing 3-1 at the half, Rio Grande turned it around in the second half, scoring three times in 16 minutes to earn the win. For a team that averages 52 percent possession on the season, Rio Grande only possessed the ball for 38.5 percent of the match last week.
For Rio Grande Valley, Ruben Luna and Kyle Murphy lead the team in scoring with four goals apiece. Justin Bilyeu leads the team in assists with four. But there is no clear No. 1 goaltender on the team, as three goalkeepers have all seen time this season. Borja Angoitia has made eight appearances this season, Calle Brown has seven appearances and Marco Carducci has made six appearances for a team that has given up 35 goals on the season, sixth worst in the league.
POSSIBLE STARTING XI (4-2-3-1)
D- Dia (L), Ramage (C), Stewart (C), Mala (R)
DM- Timm, Watson
MF- Riggi (L), Lambert (C), Wright-Phillips (R)
POSSIBLE SUBSTITUTES: GK- Woszczynski; D- Wakasa, Greer; MF- Hamilton, Avila, Cortez; F- Johnson