Photo courtesy Michael Rincon / Phoenix Rising FC
PHOENIX – Phoenix Rising FC got a brace from Jason Johnson as part of a 4-0 victory against Las Vegas Lights FC that earned Head Coach Rick Schantz victory in the first game of his second stint at the helm of Rising FC in front of a crowd of 5,939 fans at the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex. Las Vegas’ Sammy Ochoa flashed a shot just wide of the right post in the sixth minute in the first good look at goal for either side, but Rising FC then gained the upper hand and started to apply pressure. Chris Cortez couldn’t quite control his finish from Solomon Asante’s cross in the 18th minute as it looped over the crossbar, but in the 32nd minute the hosts took the lead on an outstanding individual effort that saw Jason Johnson break forward from midfield, shake a defender with a great turn and then slot home a finish to the right corner. Asante forced a near-post save by Las Vegas goalkeeper Ricardo Ferriño, and Asanted was denied again from close range after a brilliant move down the left by Cortez and Johnson. Cortez again produced a great stop by Ferriño as his near-post finish from a corner on the left was just turned high of the crossbar. Las Vegas almost got its own piece of magic by Carlos Alvarez in first-half stoppage time, only to curl his finish just over the crossbar, but the hosts doubled their lead eight minutes into the second half as Joe Farrell headed home a free kick by Asante into the left corner. Lights FC almost pulled a goal back four minutes later when a low shot by Christian Torres Roldan was kept out by Rising FC goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski, but Johnson’s second goal of the night with 13 minutes to go put the game out of reach for the hosts as he again produced a fine individual effort before shooting low into the right corner. While Las Vegas again threatened to break the shutout in stoppage time as Alvarez's curled finish came back off the crossbar late on, Phoenix added the icing on the cake from the penalty spot when Asante put home a finish to the left corner that capped a convincing attacking display from the hosts.
32’ – PHX – Jason Johnson (Gladson Awako)
53’ – PHX – Joe Farrell (Solomon Asante)
77’ – PHX – Jason Johnson (Kody Wakasa)
90+3’ – PHX – Solomon Asante (penalty kick)
Three Things That Matter:
1. With a pair of home games against sides currently sitting outside the playoff positions this week, Rising FC got Rick Schantz’s second stint as Head Coach of the side off to a great start with a comprehensive victory that saw Phoenix play with tremendous creativity that could have produced more goals if not for some good saves by Las Vegas goalkeeper Ricardo Ferriño. With Real Monarchs SLC losing earlier in the evening, Phoenix is now back within touching distance of top spot in the Western Conference ahead of Saturday’s game against Tulsa Roughnecks FC.
2. Rising FC’s attacking efforts were led by Jason Johnson, who produced two great individual goals that saw him move into a tie for the team-lead with six goals this season. Johnson has now scored 19 goals over the past season-plus for Rising FC, and while there might have been others that got bigger headlines at times in that span the consistency the Jamaican has shown in front of goal has been critical to the club’s success, which shows no sign of abating.
3. As in most of its games this season, Las Vegas had its moments on Wednesday night but again struggled defensively as defender Joel Huiqui and goalkeeper Ricardo Ferriño at times had to limit the damage that could have been inflicted by the hosts. Las Vegas has added some interesting attacking pieces over the past week, including the addition on loan of Omar Salgado today from El Paso USL for the remainder of the season, but unless the club’s defense improves it will be a tough ask to get into the playoff picture from here.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Jason Johnson, Phoenix Rising FC – Johnson scored a pair of excellent goals, and also did lots of little things well throughout the game as he notched two key passes and won 7 of 12 duels overall.
Phoenix Rising FC vs. Tulsa Roughnecks FC – June 16, 10:30 p.m. ET, Chukchansi Park
Las Vegas Lights FC vs. Seattle Sounders FC 2 – June 16, 11 p.m. ET, Cashman Field