Photo courtesy Michael Rincon / Phoenix Rising FC
PHOENIX – Jason Johnson scored twice after coming on as a halftime substitute to lead Phoenix Rising FC to a 2-1 victory against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC in front of 5,605 fans at the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex. Phoenix had much of the early play, but Colorado Springs took the lead in the 12th minute as Kevaughn Frater won a long ball forward, and hit a first-time finish from 20 yards into the left corner of the net. Phoenix almost replied in the 29th minute, only for a cross to be just too tall for Didier Drogba, and the Switchbacks almost caught the hosts on the counterattack a minute later as Masta Kacher’s shot went just wide of the right post. Phoenix had a chance late in the first half as Drogba set up Kody Wakasa cutting in from the right, but his low shot was comfortably saved by Switchbacks goalkeeper Moise Pouaty. The Switchbacks almost doubled their lead early in the second half as Rising FC goalkeeper Josh Cohen denied a fierce shot by Jordan Burt that was pegged for the top-left corner. Phoenix missed out on a good chance as Drogba’s cross from the left couldn’t be turned on goal by Jason Johnson, but Johnson came through with the equalizer in the 66th minute when Pouaty didn’t claim a cross cleanly, and Johnson was able to claim possession and tapped home a finish. Pouaty did save well off a header by Drogba with 17 minutes to go, but Johnson struck again with six minutes to go with a good header at the near post off Drogba’s corner from the left to earn the hosts a big three points.
12’ – COS – Kevaughn Frater (Josh Phillips)
66’ – PHX – Jason Johnson
84’ – PHX – Jason Johnson (Didier Drogba)
Three Things That Matter:
1. The Switchbacks didn’t have much of the ball in the opening half, but when they did they looked regularly dangerous, including on a well-taken opening goal by Kevaughn Frater. A long free kick by Josh Phillips was controlled well by the Jamaican forward, allowing him to turn his marker, and a crisp finish into the bottom-left corner of the net earned Frater his fifth goal of the season. Masta Kacher also went close with a low effort on the half-hour as Colorado Springs was able to spring out quickly when the opportunity arose.
2. Phoenix Head Coach Patrice Carteron was displeased with the urgency his side had shown in the first half, which had allowed the Switchbacks to bend but not break in their defensive structure. Bringing on Jason Johnson seemed to loosen things up more, and while there was an element of good fortune to the goal as Switchbacks goalkeeper Moise Pouaty didn’t claim the ball into the penalty area cleanly, Johnson took the chance well to give Phoenix a lifeline. The substitute then claimed the winner with six minutes to go with a deft header from Drogba’s corner, making Carteron’s big move pay off in a big way.
3. Coming off four consecutive draws, a victory on home turf was essential on Saturday night to Phoenix Rising FC’s playoff hopes. The side didn’t do it the easy way, having to come from behind to grab all three points, but the side is now level on points with eight-place Tulsa Roughnecks FC with the two teams set to meet at ONEOK Field next Saturday night in another big game in terms of the Western Conference playoff race. With the firepower Rising FC has, a place in the postseason was certainly the expectation. With Saturday’s win, it took another step closer to reality.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Jason Johnson, Phoenix Rising FC – Johnson’s impact off the bench proved pivotal as Phoenix claimed victory against the Switchbacks for the first time in the club’s history.
Phoenix Rising FC at Tulsa Roughnecks FC – July 22, 8:30 p.m. ET, ONEOK Field
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC at OKC Energy FC – July 22, 8:30 p.m. ET, Taft Stadium