Phoenix Rising FC (11-7-7, 40 pts., 7th in West) at Seattle Sounders FC 2 (9-15-4, 31 pts., 11th in West)
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Starfire Sports Complex, Tukwila, Wash.
TV: YouTube, YurView Arizona (Cox 4, 1004 HD in Phoenix; Cox 7, 1007 HD in Tucson)
The most important road trip in the history of Phoenix Rising FC begins Wednesday night in the Pacific Northwest, as the club tries to strengthen its hold on a playoff position as it faces Seattle Sounders FC 2 to open a four-match, 11-day road trip that will most likely determine the club’s playoff fate.
Phoenix Rising continues to impress people around the league as the club extended its franchise record unbeaten streak to eight matches after an impressive 2-0 win Saturday over Western Conference leaders Real Monarchs SLC. Sam Hamilton and Jason Johnson scored to give Phoenix Rising its fourth win in its last five matches, and five wins and three draws in its last eight matches.
Phoenix Rising’s defense has really stepped up in this unbeaten streak, allowing just four goals in this eight match stretch, including four clean sheets in that same period. The back line has remained solid, and the goalkeeping of Josh Cohen has been vastly improved since being out of the lineup with a hand injury.
Didier Drogba made a token appearance in Saturday’s match against Real Monarchs, but a late incident in Saturday’s match along the sideline with Real Monarchs’ Sebastian Velasquez earned Drogba a one-game suspension, which he will serve Wednesday night. He will be available for the remainder of the trip. Shawn Wright-Phillips, Peter Ramage and J.J, Greer also had injuries that kept them out of the lineup on Saturday but should be available on the trip.
Johnson continues to lead the team in scoring, as he picked up his eighth goal of the season in the victory on Saturday. Drogba has five, and will want to add to his total on this upcoming trip. Kody Wakasa leads the team in assists with four on the season.
Seattle comes into the match winless in its last four, including a 2-0 loss to Phoenix Rising on Sept. 2. Second half goals from Amadou Dia and Johnson gave Phoenix Rising the points and extended the unbeaten streak at the time to five.
Seattle recently tied Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC 1-1 on Saturday, putting a big dent in Seattle’s chances to make the playoffs. Henry Wingo scored in the first half for Seattle, only to have Colorado Springs’ Jack Jones equalize right before the half to keep Seattle winless.
The attack for Seattle begins with Zach Mathers. Mathers has 10 goals in 20 matches played this season, and the next closest teammate is Felix Chenkham with five. Tyler Miller is the No. 1 keeper with the team with 18 appearances, but has allowed 33 goals. Bryan Meredith is his backup, but he has allowed 15 goals in just eight appearances this season. Seattle has conceded the most goals in the league this season at 54. Seattle has also conceded the sixth most fouls in the league, committing 396 fouls on the season, compared to Phoenix Rising, who has conceded the least amount of fouls in the league at 288.
POSSIBLE STARTING XI (4-2-3-1)
D- Vasquez (L), Ramage (C), Stewart (C), Wakasa (R)
DM- Lambert (L), Hamilton (R)
MF- Riggi (L), Awako (C), Johnson (R)
POSSIBLE SUBSTITUTES: GK- Berner; D- Greer, Mala; MF- Gavin, Wright-Phillips, Arreola; F- Hurlow