Photo courtesy Michael Rincon / Phoenix Rising FC
PHOENIX – A Phoenix Rising FC club-record crowd of 6,890 fans saw an early goal by Ryan Telfer prove the difference as Toronto FC II took a 1-0 victory at the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex in the venue’s grand opening on Saturday night. The visitors grabbed the lead early as a through-ball by Jay Chapman slid Ben Spencer into the left side of the penalty area, and his low cross was tucked home by Telfer for his first professional goal. TFC II had the better of possession during the first half, although Phoenix’s Mike Seth had a chance to equalize in the 33rd minute that went high, as the visitors carried their lead to the break. Rising FC got onto the front foot to start the second half, and Toronto goalkeeper Mark Pais made a save to deny Víctor Vásquez an equalizer. Toronto’s Raheem Edwards almost doubled his side’s lead with 14 minutes to go, forcing Rising FC goalkeeper Josh Cohen into a big save at his near post from the left side of the penalty area. Phoenix had a golden opportunity to equalize with three minutes to go when Jason Johnson’s header went wide of the right post after a darting run and cross from the left by Alessandro Riggi, but TFC II held on to take a big three points to start the season.
8’ – TOR – Ryan Telfer (Ben Spencer)
Three Things That Matter:
1. Entering a big occasion, against a veteran side that wanted to get its club’s new era off to a successful start, Toronto FC II didn’t get overawed by the occasion as an early goal allowed the side to settle in and find a passing rhythm it was able to maintain for much of the evening. The trio of Marky Delgado, Brian James and Jay Chapman helped dictate the play as the visitors recorded held the edge in possession, and were able to come away with a valuable three points.
2. Rising FC didn’t get the result it had hoped for in the grand unveiling of the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex, but there were plenty of positives for the side to take away from the game, led by the performance of midfielder Matt Watson. Acting as the lone holding midfielder, Watson won possession well in different areas of the field, and linked up play to get Phoenix onto the front foot. As with the team as a whole, the final pass will need to be sharper moving forward, but Rising FC’s metronome showed the quality he brings to the squad in his Phoenix debut.
3. The result aside, the night could not have been a bigger success off the field for Phoenix Rising FC as it introduced itself to the region’s soccer community with the highest attendance in the club’s history. The club’s two major offseason additions in Omar Bravo and Shaun Wright-Phillips both put in full 90-minute shifts as they looked to do their part on the field, but the biggest star of the night was the new stadium itself that was packed to the tune of 6,890 fans. Rising FC’s new home will likely see its first victory soon, and kick off a major celebration for the club’s supporters, old and new.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Jay Chapman, Toronto FC II – The talented young Canadian midfielder provided a great platform for his teammates to build on, completing 82 percent of his passes overall, and helping set up the game-winning goal.
Phoenix Rising FC at Real Monarchs SLC – April 1, 6 p.m. ET, Rio Tinto Stadium
Toronto FC II at Tampa Bay Rowdies – April 1, 7:30 p.m. ET, Al Lang Stadium