Photo courtesy Bob Frid / Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2
VANCOUVER, B.C. – Alessandro Riggi had a goal and two assists as Phoenix Rising FC earned a 4-0 victory against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Sunday afternoon at Thunderbird Stadium. Phoenix took the lead in the fourth minute when Jason Johnson flicked home a header from Alessandro Riggi’s cross from the left into the top-right corner. Two minutes later Riggi made it two with an outstanding chipped finish from the right channel to the left corner that left WFC2 goalkeeper Sean Melvin helpless as Rising FC sprang forward on attack. WFC2’s first good chance came in the 24th minute as Terran Campbell’s shot forced a save from Rising FC goalkeeper Jake Cohen, and Campbell threatened again four minutes later. Phoenix went close through Chris Cortez in the 31st minute as his low free kick to the left corner that was well-saved by Melvin. Cortez gave Rising FC a three-goal lead five minutes into the second half when his shot from the left took a wicked deflection to loop over Melvin. Vancouver tried to get back into the game, and both Gloire Amanda and Cole Seiler had chances saved by Cohen, but Phoenix put the game away with 14 minutes to go as a good move saw the ball fall to Gladson Awako for a low finish to the right corner. WFC2’s David Norman Jr. forced a good save from Cohen with six minutes to go, while Marco Bustos also tested the Rising FC goalkeeper three minutes later, but Cohen earned his sixth shutout of the season as Rising FC rolled on.
4’ – PHX – Jason Johnson (Alessandro Riggi)
6’ – PHX – Alessandro Riggi (Gladson Awako)
50’ – PHX – Chris Cortez (Alessandro Riggi)
76’ – PHX – Gladson Awako
Three Things That Matter:
1. Phoenix’s pair of early goals paved the way to a club-record fourth consecutive victory, and returned to fifth place in the USL Western Conference, as both Jason Johnson and Alessandro Riggi found the net to continue the club’s impressive run of form. Phoenix is now five points back of the fourth-place Swope Park Rangers with five games to go, making a home playoff game for Rising FC still a longshot, but there’s no doubt as to the threat Phoenix will being when the postseason arrives.
2. Alessandro Riggi’s return to form has been a welcome boost for Rising FC in recent weeks, and the Canadian played a major role on Sunday afternoon back in his home country to lead Phoenix to an emphatic win. An early-season injury was a blow to the 23-year-old, who had started the season in positive fashion, but now Riggi appears to be back to his best as his deft finish to notch Rising FC’s second goal of the game highlighted the cleverness he can bring in the attacking third.
3. Vancouver was eliminated from playoff contention prior to Sunday’s game, but the performance of David Norman Jr. provided a bright spot in another tough outing for last season’s Western Conference finalists. Norman has stepped into a much bigger role this season for WFC2, and his two-way play saw him record eight tackles and four interceptions against Rising FC in addition to showing positive signs when he got the chance to join the attack. Vancouver has only pride to play for, but some individuals are still going to be worth watching as the regular season concludes.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Alessandro Riggi, Phoenix Rising FC – Riggi’s early goal provided the most memorable moment of his side’s victory, but he also provided two assists and created three additional scoring chances in a stellar display.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 vs. Portland Timbers 2 – September 30, 6 p.m. ET, MacLeod Athletic Park
Phoenix Rising FC at Portland Timbers 2 – September 27, 10:30 p.m. ET, Providence Park