Photo courtesy Ashley Orellana / Phoenix Rising FC
PHOENIX – Phoenix Rising FC scored twice late in the first half, including a highlight-reel finish by Jason Johnson, on the way to a 3-0 victory against Tulsa Roughnecks FC on Saturday night before a sellout crowd of 6,273 at the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex. After few chances early, Phoenix began to apply pressure midway through the first half, and Gladson Awako forced a low save by Roughnecks goalkeeper Fabian Cerda in the 25th minute. Solomon Asante also went close three minutes later, flashing a shot just high from the right side of the penalty area, while Chris Cortez’s first-time finish in the 39th minute was also turned away by Cerda, but Rising FC scored seconds later as it kept the play alive with Asante, whose cross from the right was headed home at the near post by Cortez. Phoenix doubled its advantage three minutes later as a clipped cross by Amadou Dia was met by a perfect scissor kick by Johnson from 15 yards that picked out the left corner of the net, leaving Cerda helpless. The Roughnecks were then reduced to 10 men just before halftime as Jhon Pirez received his second yellow card, and that allowed Phoenix to control much of the game in the second half as it looked to add to its lead. Asante forced a fingertip save from Cerda in the 56th minute, and six minutes later Cortez was denied as his free kick almost picked out the top-right corner. The hosts wrapped up all three points with a minute to go, however, as Alessandro Riggi drove into the penalty area on the right and sent a low pass that Kevaughn Frater tapped home at the back post to cement a fine week for Head Coach Rick Schantz’s side.
39’ – PHX – Chris Cortez (Solomon Asante)
42’ – PHX – Jason Johnson (Amadou Dia)
89’ – PHX – Kevaughn Frater (Alessandro Riggi)
Three Things That Matter:
1. Phoenix went into the week looking to pick up maximum points from its two home games to maintain its pursuit of Real Monarchs SLC in the Western Conference standings and thanks to two fine attacking displays accomplished just that with seven goals over two games to cement the side as the leading challenger to the Western Conference’s leader. While there might have been concerns when former Head Coach Patrice Carteron departed early in the week, those have certainly been allayed by two strong performances.
2. After his displays in the last two outings, it started to feel like Rising FC forward Jason Johnson was on a mission to find a way to record all five candidates for the USL Goal of the Week this Monday. After his outstanding individual effort against Las Vegas on Wednesday night, though, the Jamaican striker outdid himself with a scissor-kick finish that was reminiscent of the goal scored by FC Cincinnati’s Sean Okoli at the start of the 2016 season. Johnson is now sitting with seven goals this season and is moving into serious contention for a run at the USL Golden Boot in the process.
3. The Roughnecks’ tough season continued as the visitors got some fine saves from Fabian Cerda but hamstrung themselves after Jhon Pirez’s sending off just before halftime that allowed Phoenix to control the game after the break. Tulsa is still looking for its first win of the season, and it’s starting to become difficult to see when the opportunity for that might arrive after the magic of a season ago appears to have run out.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Jason Johnson, Phoenix Rising FC – Johnson’s latest highlight-reel finish cemented Phoenix’s lead just before halftime as he once again brought a sellout at Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex to its feet.
Phoenix Rising FC at Rio Grande Valley FC – June 23, 8:30 p.m. ET, H-E-B Park
Tulsa Roughnecks FC at Orange County SC – June 23, 10 p.m. ET, Champions Soccer Park