The final Friday night of regular season action in the USL Championship saw RGVFC close out their regular season campaign on a five-game unbeaten run after defeating Portland Timbers 2, 2-1, at H-E-B Park before Phoenix Rising FC set the league record for most wins and points accumulated in a single season following a 3-1 win over OKC Energy FC at Casino Arizona Field.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Phoenix Rising FC was officially crowned the USL Championship Regular Season Title-winner following an impressive 3-1 win over OKC Energy FC that saw them set the record for most wins and points accumulated in a single season. Attacking from the start, the hosts had a perfect opportunity to take the lead after 14 minutes when forward Solomon Asante was brought down in the penalty area by OKC’s Christian Ibeagha, but in stepping up to the spot, Asante saw his spot kick saved by Energy FC goalkeeper Bryan Byars to prevent the opener. However, in the 21st minute, Asante instead became the league’s all-time single-season assist leader when he connected with forward Adam Jahn for Phoenix’s opening goal, with Jahn turning in on a defender and unleashing an unstoppable shot to Byars’ right that found the side-netting. In the 32nd minute, Phoenix doubled up on its momentum when midfielder Kevon Lambert hit a first-time effort off a Jon Bakero pass that curled and dipped past Byars on its way in to add the team’s second of the night. At the end of the first half, defensive miscommunication nearly allowed OKC a way back in, but Deshorn Brown’s attempt to pounce on a loose ball was thwarted by Phoenix goalkeeper Zac Lubin, who was quick to react and prevent the opposition from capitalizing on a giveaway. Into the second half, Phoenix looked the more likely of the two teams to find another goal and did just that in the 69th minute when Jahn put in a chance created by A.J. Cochran following a corner kick to bag a brace and give the hosts a three-goal cushion. Four minutes later, though, Brown was able to pull one back for OKC with an impressive strike from distance that Lubin couldn’t get a palm on, putting a small dent in the deficit. Then, heading into stoppage time, OKC’s Owayne Gordon saw a shot rip off the crossbar as the visitors attempted to find a way back in the game. However, Phoenix proved why they are the team to beat heading into the postseason and closed out a remarkable regular season campaign with yet another win at Casino Arizona Field.
USL Championship Man of the Match
Adam Jahn, Phoenix Rising FC – Jahn’s brace was the difference maker for Phoenix on Friday, with the versatile forward creating five chances in total while completing over 82 percent of his passes and winning 2 of 4 aerial duels in the win.
EDINBURG, Tx. – Rio Grande Valley FC relied on two first half goals to defeat the Portland Timbers 2, 2-1, at H-E-B Park to round out the regular season with a win at home. The hosts were quick to strike first, taking the lead after just 15 minutes when midfielder Eric Bird found Deshane Beckford near the top of the box where Beckford cut in and dribbled past one before firing a well-placed effort to the far post past T2 goalkeeper Jake Leeker and in. Three minutes later though, Portland found a way back after a ball swung in to the back post found midfielder Harold Hanson, who headed back across goal for Todd Wharton and Wharton rifled a shot from close in beating RGVFC goalkeeper Ben Willis to level the scoring. Pressing to find one before the break, after forward Carlos Small was denied by a smart save by Leeker in the 39th minute, Small found his goal at the next time of asking when teammate Michael Salazar headed a corner kick across the six-yard box to the back post for Small, who tapped in uncontested from a couple of yards out to restore the lead in the 43rd minute. Keeping the lead through halftime, RGVFC tested Leeker multiple times in the second half as it sought a goal for cushion, but it was the visitors who nearly broke through after a frantic finish saw a pair of quality chances for Portland fall by the wayside and in the end, RGVFC kept all three points. The win sees RGVFC finish the regular season on a five-game unbeaten streak, while T2 end the year in opposite fashion, losing five straight games.
USL Championship Man of the Match
Carlos Small, RGVFC Toros – Small scored RGVFC’s game winner in the first half and created two additional chances while completing over 81 percent of his passes and winning 8 of 11 duels, including 2 of 2 in the air, to help the hosts to a win.