PHOENIX – Phoenix Rising FC was edged out in its first match of the 2020 Visit Tucson Sun Cup as a second-half goal by United States Men’s National Team forward Gyasi Zardes earned Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew SC a 1-0 victory at Casino Arizona Field.
Rising FC had its chances to score in the first half. Forward Rufat Dadashov had a clear header toward the frame but his shot grazed over the top of the crossbar in the 27th minute.
Then in the 39th minute, forward Junior Flemmings gave the club its best chance of the half. The sequence began with Solomon Asante sending a long, diagonal ball toward the left corner of the pitch. Flemmings brought the pass down with his chest, beating his defender in the process, and had a clear path to the keeper. After a quick cut inside to his right, Flemmings blasted a low shot toward the right side of the net and forced Columbus goalkeeper Eloy Room to punch the ball away.
The rebound fell right to the feet of Dadashov, who immediately sent the ball back toward the target. But the shot went right to the Room to end the scoring threat.
Phoenix had another chance to take the lead early in the second half when Dadashov cleverly picked off a loose touch by a Columbus player in the Crew SC penalty area and as he turned was brought down in the box. Asante stepped up to take the penalty kick but Room went the right way to save the shot to the left corner, parrying it away to safety.
Crew SC scored the match’s lone goal of the match in the 73rd minute when Lucas Zelarayan created space on the right and lifted a cross that sailed to the back post and was nodded home inside the six-yard area by Zardes.
Columbus almost made it a two-goal game with 10 minutes to go but Phoenix goalkeeper Eric Dick made an excellent save to tip an effort by Zelerayan from 20 yards onto the crossbar, while Rising FC had a late chance from a free kick by Joey Calistri that went off target to leave Crew SC the victors.