Phoenix Rising FC (9-7-6, 33 pts., 8th in West) vs. Orange County SC (7-8-8, 29 pts., 11th in West)
7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Phoenix Rising FC Soccer Complex, Scottsdale
Phoenix Rising FC finally made their way into the top half of the USL Western Conference Table after Saturday’s 2-0 win against Seattle Sounders FC 2 at home. Phoenix Rising looks to add three more points this Wednesday at home against Orange County SC in USL’s Game of the Week to further secure their playoff hopes.
Phoenix Rising has been in great form lately, coming in on a five-match unbeaten streak, having won their last two. The Firebirds look to take advantage of their favorable ending to the season as they push for the USL playoffs.
Amadou Dia scored his first goal for Phoenix Rising last week with a strong header delivered from AJ Gray shortly after being subbed on. Jason Johnson also continued his scoring ways, in style, with a late goal in stoppage time by stealing the ball from Seattle goalkeeper Tyler Miller and putting it in a wide-open net.
Phoenix Rising goalkeeper Josh Cohen stepped back into the lineup last week to fill in for an injured Carl Woszczynski. Cohen’s performance put him on the USL Team of the Week, and is in the running for USL Save of the Week after his full-stretch stop late in the match.
Phoenix Rising and Orange County have met twice this season, both matches ending in late equalizing goals. We all remember Drogba’s clutch free kick during the first match. Orange County’s Sola Abolaji returned the favor with an 89th-minute goal in their last matchup.
Abolaji received a red card last week in Orange County’s loss to Reno and will not be eligible to play Wednesday against Rising FC. Irvin Parra leads Orange County in goals scored with six tallies in 21 appearances.
Phoenix Rising will have three matches within one week, so head coach Patrice Carteron may have to make some adjustments to give his starters rest for another critical away matchup against Colorado Springs Switchbacks this Saturday.
Phoenix Rising released an update yesterday on Didier Drogba, Omar Bravo, and a recent signing, Gladson Awako. Drogba looks to return to the pitch in the next few weeks after recovering from a minor groin injury. Bravo has been listed as inactive for many weeks now and will remain with the team after discussions with Carteron about a possible move. He will stay with the team and continue to train.
Awako, a midfielder, was recently signed by Phoenix Rising and will be eligible to play this Wednesday against Orange County. The 26-year-old from Ghana has some international and European experience, but most recently played at TP Mazembe.
Possible Starting XI (4-2-3-1)
D- Vasquez (L), Ramage (C), Stewart (C), Wakasa (R)
DM- Lambert (L), Watson (R)
MF- Johnson (L), Wright-Phillips (C), Riggi (R)
Possible Substitues: GK- Wirth; D- Dia, Mala; MF- Hamilton, Avila, Awako; F- Hurlow-Paonessa