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Rooney Rises to Occasion for Phoenix

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 04/09/17, 10:13AM EDT

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Crowd of 6,330 on hand as midfielder’s brace earns win against Los Dos


Photo courtesy Michael Rincon / Phoenix Rising FC

PHOENIX – Luke Rooney scored the first two goals of Phoenix Rising FC’s new era to lead the club to a 2-1 win against the LA Galaxy II in front of a crowd of 6,330 fans at the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex. Rising FC opened the game sharply, and almost took the lead in the 11th minute when Omar Bravo’s header was saved by Los Dos goalkeeper Jon Kempin. Phoenix continued to press as Kempin recorded four first-half saves, but he was left flat-footed when Shaun Wright-Phillips’ drive from 25 yards rattled off the post in the 22nd minute as the game remained scoreless at the break. Phoenix’s Alessandro Riggi had the first good chance of the second half, only for Kempin to turn it aside, but it was the Galaxy II who took the lead when Adonis Amaya capitalized on a defensive error in the 52nd minute. Amaya almost added a second five minutes later, only for Rising FC goalkeeper Josh Cohen to make a fine save, and Rising FC equalized on the hour-mark as Rooney converted from the spot after Bravo was brought down in the penalty area. Then with 11 minutes to go Rooney struck again, sending a low finish home into the right corner of the net to earn his side a historic victory.

Scoring: 
52’ – LA – Adonis Amaya
60’ – PHX – Luke Rooney (penalty kick)
79’ – PHX – Luke Rooney (Omar Bravo)

Three Things That Matter:

  • 1. When it finally arrived, Luke Rooney’s penalty kick in the 60th minute was almost a cathartic moment for Phoenix Rising FC’s players and fans. After suffering two scoreless defeats to start the club’s new era, Phoenix had been the better side for most of the contest, but again found itself behind due to an elementary error. A holdover from the club’s 2016 season, Rooney himself had almost broken the deadlock late in the first half with a sweet volley, but his precise spot kick in front of the club’s ardent supporters brought the stadium to life perfectly.

  • 2. Despite the defeat, LA Galaxy II goalkeeper Jon Kempin had a 24th birthday to remember as he kept his side in the game with some outstanding saves to frustrate Rising FC’s attack. A former Homegrown signing by Sporting Kansas City, Kempin joined the Galaxy this offseason looking to re-energize his career, and with more performances like the one in Phoenix could certainly get onto Curt Onalfo’s radar as one of three good young goalkeepers in LA’s ranks.  

  • 3. As good as Kempin was, he couldn’t deny Rooney’s second of the game as Phoenix claimed the first victory of its new era. Omar Bravo again played a role, laying the pass back to the Englishman for a low finish into the right corner of the net. One of the cornerstones of the team a year ago as the club’s on-field overhaul under Head Coach Frank Yallop began, it was probably appropriate that Rooney notched the first game-winner for Rising FC as the club turned a major corner on Saturday night.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match

Luke Rooney, Phoenix Rising FC – Rooney notched both goals and provided outstanding energy throughout the contest to lead Rising FC to its first win of the club’s new era.

Upcoming Games:
Phoenix Rising FC
vs. Swope Park Rangers – April 23, 10:30 p.m. ET, Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex
LA Galaxy II vs. Seattle Sounders FC 2 – April 15, 10:30 p.m. ET, StubHub Center Track and Field Stadium

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