PHOENIX – Junior Flemmings scored his first hat trick in the USL Championship to lead Phoenix Rising FC to a 5-2 victory against New Mexico United on Saturday night at Casino Arizona Field. The victory was Rising FC’s first against New Mexico in four meetings between the clubs.
Both teams were looking to build on victories in their previous outings, but it was New Mexico that grabbed the early lead. Amando Moreno picked up possession near the halfway line on the right and delivered an angled ball forward to the top of the penalty area that Romeo Parkes cleverly headed with a looping arc toward goal to find the right corner of the net in just the fifth minute.
Phoenix thought it had replied 10 minutes later as Rufat Dadashov found the net with a finish, only for the offside flag to be raised. It didn’t take long for the equalizer to arrive for the hosts, however, as Flemmings picked up his first of the night. Taking a ball over the top by Jon Bakero, the Jamaican international cut past his defender onto his right foot and slotted his finish into the right corner of the net in the 17th minute.
Five minutes later Phoenix took the lead. After a cross by Solomon Asante from the right found Flemmings for a shot that was blocked, the ball caromed back to the Ghanaian playmaker. He used a quick first step to create space near the goal line and delivered a cross that Dadashov redirected into the net on the volley.
New Mexico had a chance to respond 10 minutes before halftime as Moreno delivered a cross from the right that was attacked at the near post by Chris Wehan, but the forward couldn’t deliver a finish on target. Instead, seven minutes into the second half, Rising FC added to its lead. Off a short corner on the right, Asante delivered a ball to the back post where AJ Cochran rose to head back across goal and into the right corner for a 3-1 lead.
United wouldn’t back down and pulled a goal back from a corner of its own just before the hour-mark. A cross by Josh Suggs caused problems in Phoenix’s penalty area, and the quick thinking of Andrew Tinari saw him use a backheeled finish to clean up the opportunity from the top of the six-yard area. The visitors were then denied a chance at an equalizer in the 71st minute when Moreno mistimed his run and was ruled offside as Parkes tried to release him through the middle.
Three minutes later, though, the timing would be perfect for Flemmings to add his second and restore Phoenix’s two-goal lead. Former United player Santi Moar, brought on as a second-half substitute began the play as he found Bakero in space on the right side, and a low, driven cross to the back post was met by Flemmings at close range for a first-time finish.
Moar would then add an assist of his own to set up Flemmings’ hat trick. With the game stretched, the Spaniard pushed forward from the left side and found the Jamaican in the right side of the penalty, where Flemmings roofed his finish and put the game out of reach for the visitors.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Junior Flemmings, Phoenix Rising FC – Flemmings recorded his first hat trick, had seven shots overall and completed 12 of 15 passes and 3 of 5 dribbles to lead Phoenix to a big rivalry victory.