Phoenix Rising wins third-straight home match 2-0 over Rio Grande Valley FC

Phoenix Rising FC's Didier Drogba grabs the ball during a match against Whitecaps FC 2 June 10, 2017 at the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex in Scottsdale, Ariz. Photo by Aaron Blau/Firebird Rising
Phoenix Rising FC’s Didier Drogba grabs the ball during a match against Whitecaps FC 2 June 10, 2017 at the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex in Scottsdale, Ariz. Photo by Aaron Blau/Firebird Rising

Phoenix Rising FC continued its home success with a 2-0 victory over Rio Grande Valley FC Saturday night in front of 6,047 fans at the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex. Phoenix Rising has collected 16 of a possible 18 points from its last six home matches, and that is a franchise record.

Match Recap: RGV had the game’s first chance in the third minute, when Kai Greene struck a header that Josh Cohen collected. Emilio Greene had the next chance for RGV, but his strike went several feet wide.

In the 14th minute, Matt Watson set Jason Johnson up for an inviting opportunity, but RGV keeper Calle Brown pushed the ball out for a corner. Four minutes later, Didier Drogba set Johnson up again for a chance, but a defender cleared the ball of Johnson for a goal kick. Phoenix Rising continued to get into the game in the 22nd minute when Amadou Dia sent a ball in for Drogba. Unfortunately, his heeled effort skidded wide of the right post. And in the 26th minute, Johnson again came close to opening the scoring with an ambitious tight-angle effort that nearly found the top left corner.

Johnson would not be denied for long though. In the 34th minute, Gladson Awako gave Johnson a ball in the right corner, and Johnson expertly navigated past two defenders before drilling a left-footed effort into the net for his team-leading 13th goal of the season. In the late moments of the half, Phoenix continued to control play, but could not seriously test Calle Brown before the half. Emilio Garcia could only sky his effort over the bar in extra time, so Phoenix Rising led 1-0 at the break.

After halftime, neither team was able to generate a clear-cut chances early on. Sam Hamilton gave the best effort for either side in the 51st minute when his header went wide of the left post. Five minutes later, Matt Watson forced an excellent save from Brown, and Johnson set Drogba up for a second effort that Brown punched to his left.

In the 61st minute, Robert Casner’s rolled effort was deflected wide for a corner. However, RGV could do nothing with three ensuing corner kicks. In the 64th minute, Gladson Awako exited for Shaun Wright-Philips. On an ensuing corner, Peter Ramage forced a goal-line clearance from RGV, and then two shots from Johnson were blocked. In the 69th minute, Victor Vasquez made an excellent tackle to preserve Phoenix’s advantage.

In the 75th minute, Drobga took advantage of suspect keeping to double the Phoenix Rising lead. His free kick was stopped by Brown, but the ball bounced off his gloves and crept across the goal line. In the 78th minute, Kyle Murphy struck a dangerous free kick off the crossbar for RGV, but Phoenix was able to preserve the shutout and clear the ball.

Phoenix brought Alessandr0 Riggi and Chris Cortez on as late subs, while Amadou Dia and Drogba came off early. The hosts nearly added a third goal in added time, but Wright-Phillips’ chipped effort went inches wide. Moments later, Josh Cohen made a full-stretch save on Todd Wharton’s curling shot to preserve the shutout. The match finished 2-0 to Phoenix Rising, and the result keeps its hopes of a fourth-place finish alive.

Up Next: Phoenix closes out the regular season against Portland Timbers 2 on Oct. 14  at 7:30 pm.

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