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Three Things That Mattered – Phoenix’s First Victory Arrives

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 04/14/19, 1:21AM EDT

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A staunch defensive display was at the heart of Rising FC’s trip to El Paso

EL PASO, Texas – Phoenix Rising FC took its first victory of the 2019 regular season with a 2-0 win against El Paso Locomotive FC that spoiled the Locomotive FC debut of Jerome Kiesewetter in front of a crowd of 7,389 fans at Southwest University Park. Here are three talking points coming out of the contest:

  • TIGHT AS A DRUM: Phoenix Rising FC got its defense on track last week in a scoreless draw with Fresno FC, but in front of a hostile crowd on the road Phoenix was outstanding in its defensive third. El Paso struggled to make headway against Rising FC’s back line, with its lack of activity in the area at the top of the penalty area maybe the best indication of how well Phoenix marshalled its hosts.

El Paso Locomotive FC
Activity Heat Map vs. PHX | 4-13-19

Phoenix ended the night winning 22 of 24 tackles and winning both the battle for duels and aerial duels as the visitors clamped down impressively to earn a second consecutive shutout.

  • QUIET DEBUT: There were probably plenty of eyes trained on what former United States international Jerome Kiesewetter would bring at the top of Locomotive FC’s lineup, and while there were things to be pleased about in his debut for El Paso the expected amount of work to get Kiesewetter integrated into the lineup was was also on display. The 26-year-old linked up play decently, completing 13 of 16 passes, but both of his attempts at finishes were off target including a header in the 32nd minute that he will probably felt he should have done better with. There should be plenty to come from Kiesewetter moving forward, but we got an indicator of what the learning curve looks like as well on Saturday night.

  • CENTRAL PILLARS: One of the keys to Phoenix’s run to the Western Conference championship a season ago was the defensive midfield pairing of Collin Fernandez and Kevon Lambert. On Saturday night they showed again why they’re such a formidable duo as they closed out space to limit El Paso to only one shot on goal for the game despite the hosts having far more possession throughout the contest. Phoenix heads to Austin Bold FC for the USL Championship Game of the Week on Wednesday night to complete its Texas road trip where Rising FC is likely to encounter Xavier Baez. If Fernandez and Lambert put in a similar performance there, then Phoenix will have a solid chance at adding more road points.

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