Phoenix Rising FC (13-7-7, 46 pts., 5th in West) at Portland Timbers 2 (2-19-6, 12 pts., 15th in West)
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Providence Park, Portland, Ore.
TV: YouTube, YurView Arizona (Cox 4, 1004 HD in Phoenix; Cox 7, 1007 HD in Tucson)
History could be made Wednesday night in Portland, Ore. when Phoenix Rising continues its four-match road trip as it faces the worst team in the Western Conference in Portland Timbers 2.
A win guarantees Phoenix Rising a playoff berth for the first time in club history. The club has been on a torrid stretch, winning four of its last five matches, three clean sheets, and unbeaten in their last 10, all current club records. Phoenix Rising is also looking for its first-ever win over Portland, as Portland hold a 4-0-1 record against Phoenix Rising.
It was a big week for midfielder Alessandro Riggi, as he scored two goals and had two assists in the last two games played against Seattle Sounders FC 2 and Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2, and those efforts earned Riggi USL Team of the Week honors. Riggi hopes to add to his totals of four goals and two assists on the season.
Phoenix Rising will also look to leading goal scorer Jason Johnson. Johnson scored his ninth goal of the season in Sunday’s 4-0 win over Vancouver. Riggi, Gladson Awako and Chris Cortez sealed the win for Phoenix Rising, and will be looking to add to their totals against Portland.
But it all begins in the back for Phoenix Rising, and it starts with Josh Cohen. Cohen has posted three consecutive clean sheets, and the team has allowed just four goals in the 10-match unbeaten streak. And the defenders in the back have put on a herculean effort as well, led by Peter Ramage, Jordan Stewart, Victor Vasquez, Kody Wakasa, Doueuegi Mala, Amadou Dia and Jordan Gibbons.
Strong efforts have also been put in by the defensive midfielders, including Sam Hamilton, Kevon Lambert, Matt Watson and Miguel Timm.
Portland comes into the match 0-1-3 in its last four matches, and comes in on the heels of a 6-1 loss to a hot Reno 1868 FC team that got two goals each from Antoine Hoppenot and Dane Kelly.
Portland is led by Victor Arboleda, who has a team-high three goals on the season. Bill Poni Tuiloma, Max Ornstil and Augustine Williams each have scored two goals on the season. Portland has scored just 22 goals on the season, 28th out of the 30 teams in the league.
In goal most likely will be Kendall McIntosh, who has allowed 38 goals in 17 appearances this season.
POSSIBLE STARTING XI (4-2-3-1)
D- Vasquez (L), Stewart (C), Ramage (C), Waskasa (R)
DM- Lambert (L), Hamilton (R)
MF- Dia (L), Awako (C), Riggi (R)
POSSIBLE SUBSTITUTES: GK- Berner; D- Mala, Greer; MF- Gray, Wright-Phillips, Watson; F- Hurlow