On the face of it, there was nothing that abnormal about Phoenix Rising FC suffering its first loss of the season this past Saturday against Orange County SC. Although Championship Soccer Stadium was the venue for the biggest win in Rising FC’s history in the Western Conference Final of the 2018 USL Championship Playoffs, during the regular season since the start of the 2017 season Rising FC has failed to claim victory there in six visits (0-2-4).
What was different about this result, however, was the manner in which it went down. Not only did the team suffer Santi Moar’s red card just before halftime, but an attack that had seemed ready to pick up where it left off last season when it returned with a 4-0 win against the LA Galaxy II a couple of weeks ago seemed off.
How off? Well, the last time Phoenix recorded only one shot on goal in a regular season game, you’d have to go all the way back to a 1-0 defeat to San Antonio FC on May 20, 2017.
So, tough night.
But, if Solomon Asante has anything to say about it, it won’t happen again. According to Head Coach Rick Schantz in his weekly call with reporters, Asante looked to refocus his teammates as they prepared to make the trip home.
“They got on the bus and he said, ‘we can’t wait’”, said Schantz. “‘We can’t wait for something to happen in our career, we can’t wait for something positive to happen to us. You have to do it now and you have to go and get it.’ I think that was great for the players to hear. Our captain said, guys, it’s not just going to magically happen, we have to go get it, and it doesn’t matter whether its fans or not, bad field or not, we have to do it ourselves.”
There’s been no question the impact that Asante has had on the field for Rising FC since his arrival before the 2018 season. The reigning Championship Most Valuable Player has not only been one of the most durable players in the league – his 68 regular-season appearances are only surpassed by five players – but his 38 goals are second over that span while his 28 assists are the most in the league.
That leaves us to see how Rising FC will react when they get another strong test on Saturday night from an El Paso Locomotive FC side that itself is looking for a positive reaction to defeat when it visits Casino Arizona Field. With the desert heat and lack of live fans in the stands for inspiration, it’s going to be incumbent on the hosts to go out and grab the game the way they know how.
“These are the dog days of summer here in Phoenix,” said Schantz. “It’s hot and tiring and miserable, and if it’s 0-0 or you’re in a difficult match and you can’t look into fans and dig down deep for those people who are screaming for you or throwing beer at each other, really enjoying themselves, it really becomes … you have to remember why we play the game and that love of the game has to carry you through.”
As @ussoccerfndn completes their 300th mini-pitch, we’re proud to have played a part in their journey to 1000 along with our amazing partners!— Energy FC (@EnergyFC) July 29, 2020
With courts 17 & 18 about to open in #1OKC, there isn’t a pro club in the United States with more in their home city!#ForCityAndClub pic.twitter.com/i7yAYXV7Uo
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