Photo courtesy Michael Rincon / Phoenix Rising FC
PHOENIX – Phoenix Rising FC and Orange County SC played to a 0-0 draw on Wednesday night at the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex in the USL Game of the Week on ESPN3 as the sides finished all square for the third time in the regular season. Rising FC had the first good chance in the 13th minute fall to Jason Johnson, but he was unable to put his finish on target and shot wide of the right post. Orange County’s Jerry van Ewijk almost struck a moment later as a curling effort went just wide of the left post, while Juan Pablo Ocegueda also went close for the visitors with a rasping effort from 20 yards that flew past the right upright just past the half-hour mark. Phoenix’s Chris Cortez threatened early in the second half with Rising FC’s first effort on goal, but neither side was able to create many clear looks on goal as the second half went on. Johnson had a shot saved for Rising FC with 16 minutes to go as OCSC goalkeeper Charlie Lyon kept the game scoreless, but Phoenix’s best chance of the night came with a minute to go as AJ Gray’s low delivery to the top of the six-yard area saw first Gladson Awako hit the right post and then Johnson the left on the rebound before Orange County cleared. A late free kick offered Phoenix one last chance in stoppage time, but Orange County held firm to earn a point on the road.
Three Things That Matter:
1. After moving into the playoff positions over the past weekend, Phoenix seemed to have a slight letdown in terms of energy on Wednesday night as it was able to continue its recent undefeated streak, but wasn’t able to tack on a third consecutive victory to the club’s recent success. Gladson Awako looked bright in his debut for the club after coming on as a substitute, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a little more squad rotation on Saturday when the side visits Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC at Weidner Field’s altitude to try and bring a little more to the 90 minutes that we saw on Wednesday night.
2. Orange County is also in the middle of a busy run of games, but for the visitors on Wednesday the chemistry of the front three in attack seemed to be the thing keeping them from finding a way to take what would have been a big road victory. With recent additions Irvin Parra and Rodrigo Pacheco – who made his debut on loan from LAFC on Wednesday night – joining Jerry van Ewijk and Carlos Alvarez in the attacking quartet of Orange County’s lineup, there were some bright moments, but more work to be done to get things clicking offensively as OCSC finished without a shot on goal for the contest.
3. Wednesday night’s game had plenty of attention from elsewhere in the USL Western Conference given the status the game had in the race for the playoffs. A draw isn’t a bad result for either side given the games they still have remaining, but it will also offer hope to the likes of Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC as they prepare to host Phoenix, and ninth-place OKC Energy FC, which saw neither side make a big stride forward as it waits to return to action on Sunday night. With the playoff race as tight as it is from sixth place down in the Western Conference, there remain plenty of teams who thing they’ll have a shot at the postseason.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Jason Johnson, Phoenix Rising FC – Johnson was the most dynamic player going forward for either side on the night, and came closest to breaking the deadlock, only to see his late chance come back off the post.
Phoenix Rising FC at Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC – September 9, 8 p.m. ET, Weidner Field
Orange County SC vs. Swope Park Rangers – September 9, 10 p.m. ET, Champions Soccer Stadium