Photo Courtesy Sam Ortega/Portland Timbers 2
PORTLAND, Ore. – Phoenix Rising FC continued its impressive run, and booked itself a place in the 2017 USL Cup Playoffs with a 2-0 win against the Portland Timbers 2 at Providence Park on Wednesday night. It took just eight minutes for Phoenix to open the scoring as Kendall McIntosh saved Gladson Awako’s initial strike, but could only parry it to Shaun Wright-Phillips, who easily passed the ball into the back of the net. In the 82nd minute a quick free kick doubled Phoenix's lead as Wright-Phillips turned provider, playing a ball forward for Jason Johnson to run onto and bury it for his 10th goal of the season. After conceding Portland set to work to find an equalizer, with Kyle Bjornethun looking particularly dangerous for T2, but the hosts were unable to fine couldn’t find the net, going to the break 1-0 down. In the 63rd minute a corner gave T2 a dangerous chance to equalize as Bill Tuiloma headed on goal only for Wright-Phillips to clear off the line. Johnson was active after coming on as a substitute for Rising FC, and just five minutes after entering the match was played through by Wright-Phillips only to be denied by a strong McIntosh save. In the 79th minute T2 had one last chance with Omar Mohamed finding Augustine Williams on a long throw but his effort was crucially blocked before Phoenix went on to seal the win and a place in the postseason for the first time in club history.
8’ – PHX – Shaun Wright-Phillips
82’ – PHX – Jason Johnson (Shaun Wright-Phillips)
Three Things That Matter:
1. Rising FC continued its stunning form, now undefeated in its last 11 matches. That run has seen Phoenix become the latest team to clinch a place in the USL Cup Playoffs and begin to threaten the teams in the top four of the Western Conference standings with five wins in a row.
2. It was another frustrating night for T2 as it fell to its 13th loss at home this season. That run has seen T2 win just one match at home this season, on July 29th against Rio Grande Valley FC, and this result ends a run of promising home form for T2, with two straight home matches undefeated.
3. Despite the result, it was Portland that dominated possession managing to hold 63.4 percent of the ball. That reflects the Phoenix style of providing a strong defensive performance as the base for a victory, and perhaps also shows some tiredness at the end of a lengthy road trip for Phoenix which will end on Saturday in Sacramento.
Shaun Wright-Phillips, Phoenix Rising FC – It may not have been a spectacular goal, but Wright-Phillips showed all his experience to be in the right place to stab home the early goal before using that experience again to get the assist on a clever quick free kick. Wright-Philips continued to be active after his goal, creating four chances in the match, managing a 95.7 percent passing accuracy rate and even clearing a ball off the line at a crucial moment in the match.
Portland Timbers 2 vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2, - September 30, 6p.m. ET, McLeod Athletic Park
Phoenix Rising FC vs. Sacramento Republic FC – September 30, 10:30p.m. ET, Papa Murphy’s Park