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Bravo’s Breakthrough Lifts Phoenix

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 06/25/17, 12:02PM EDT

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Rising FC impressed by Monarchs after earning 1-1 draw


Photo courtesy Michael Rincon / Phoenix Rising FC

PHOENIX – Entering Saturday’s game with USL Western Conference leaders Real Monarchs SLC without a goal in the regular season for Phoenix Rising FC, and only two shots on goal to boot, things hadn’t quite clicked into place yet for legendary Mexican forward Omar Bravo in his new home.

After arguably his most complete performance of the season provided both his first goal, and a valuable point in a 1-1 draw in front of 6,365 fans at the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex, it looked like the tide might have shifted.

“I think it’s always important to score,” said Bravo. “We leave with an OK feeling, because I think the team had some options to win. But we’ll keep trying to get better and win three points at a time.”

Bravo’s first league goal was a simple one in the end as he put himself in the perfect position to capitalize on a great combination between Didier Drogba and Matt Watson, with the midfielder’s low ball to the top of the six-yard area finding the space between the defense and Monarchs goalkeeper Connor Sparrow perfectly for Bravo to finish. It also arrived at an ideal time, with the Monarchs closing in on taking their early lead into the halftime break.

After the club’s up-and-down start to the season, Rising FC is now undefeated in three games under new Head Coach Fabrice Carteron, and has kept itself in a good position in the Western Conference standings with games in hand on the clubs that sit in the top eight positions.

“Step by step we are progressing,” said Carteron “It’s now the third game, we are unbeaten and I think we are sure to progress in the next week. It was a big challenge for us to compete against this very nice team from Salt Lake, but I’m proud of what we did tonight.”

Certainly, both sides left the game feeling they could have taken more from it. The Monarchs scored a beautiful opening goal as Daniel Haber redirected home Demar Phillips’ cross in the 12th minute with a good volleyed finish, and the visitors had chances in the second half to retake the lead. While the side’s nine-game winning streak came to an end, the Monarchs are three points clear of San Antonio FC with a game in hand on the side that is the only current rival to its position atop the standings.


Photo courtesy Michael Rincon / Phoenix Rising FC

Holding 60 percent of possession, and recording almost 200 passes more than their hosts, the Monarchs were able to turn the tables somewhat on Rising FC in sweltering conditions that left both teams drained by the end.

“They are a good team with good players,” said Bravo. “They have good feet, they control the ball well and when the weather conditions are strong it is difficult for us because they always have good possession of the ball and that wears us down more.”

Facing another important test this Friday night when the club visits a Reno 1868 FC that took a 4-0 win when they met for the first time this season, the road doesn’t get much easier for Phoenix. After Bravo’s first goal, the hope is there’s much more to come.

“I’m happy we are unbeaten for three games,” said Carteron. “We need to keep on working like this. We have two games away and we have to be strong defensively and this time score more goals.”

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