PHOENIX – Phoenix Rising FC and Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC split a pair of 75-minute preseason exhibitions on Saturday afternoon at the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex, with the Switchbacks taking a 3-1 victory in the opening scrimmage before Rising FC earned a 5-0 win in the second 75-minute contest.
“The first group was not good and the second was fantastic,” said head coach Rick Schantz after the matches. “I’m happy with our depth but we’ve still got some things to work on. We were out-worked, out-hustled and didn’t feel like playing [in the first game]. We played a young, aggressive, hungry team and we got spanked.
“The second group was humble,” added Schantz. “Colorado played with such high pressure that we needed to play in behind them. The first group thought they could play through the pressure and they made too many turnovers. I’m really proud of that second group. Prince was very dynamic and Seyi has shown he is humble and willing to work.”
A counterattack down the left side saw Colorado Springs open the scoring in the first scrimmage in the 16th minute. The ball was played up the left flank into space, allowing the Switchbacks striker to pick up his head and fire a shot, high over the left arm of Phoenix goalkeeper Andre Rawls.
Aodhan Quinn almost leveled for Phoenix in the 22nd minute after Santi Moar earned a free kick in a dangerous area, but his left-footed shot from 25 yards out skipped just wide of the goal. Colorado Springs then doubled its lead in the 30th minute when another counterattack caught Rising too far forward. Rawls did very well to stop the first attempt but the rebound was finished off after the goalkeeper made a diving save to his right side.
Phoenix’s Rufat Dadashov halved the deficit in the 37th minute on a penalty kick, which was awarded after Solomon Asante picked off a pass inside Switchbacks FC’s box and was immediately taken down by a defender. Rising FC’s first group then got off to a great start in the second half when Asante chipped a ball into the area that was headed off the woodwork by Dadashov. The rebound came back to the striker’s feet and he struck a hard shot, but his second try was saved by the goalkeeper. The rebound was pushed directly into the path of Darnell King and the defender cracked another hard shot on goal, but Switchbacks’ goalkeeper came across his line to make another outstanding save and keep the visitors ahead.
That was as close as Phoenix’s first group would get as Colorado Springs struck for a third time on the counterattack just before the 75th minute. King did well to get back and defend the rush but was unlucky as the ball deflected off his shin and skipped into the back of the net for an own goal.
The tables were turned in the second scrimmage as Phoenix took an early lead in the eighth minute when Arturo Rodriguez got the ball wide to Prince Saydee. The forward cut inside and struck a hard shot, low to the goalkeeper’s left side from 20 yards out to make it 1-0. Joey Calistri then doubled Phoenix’s lead in the 15th minute when a clearance by Colorado Springs popped out to the top of the penalty area. Calistri waited for the ball to sit up and then cracked a low shot into the corner of the net.
Rodriguez’s second assist of the day unlocked Colorado’s defense for a third time in the 35th minute. The former USL League One Most Valuable Player played a perfect long pass onto the foot of right winger Ivan Gutiérrez, and the offseason arrival from the LA Galaxy II then cut inside-out to shake his defender before accelerating and beating the goalkeeper to make it 3-0.
Saydee got in behind Colorado Springs’ defense again in the 45th minute, and after slowing picked out a centering pass into the six-yard area for Seyi Adekoya to finish off. Saydee then added his second goal of the game in the 58th minute as he beat at Colorado Springs defender on the left side before finishing a high and hard shot over the shoulder of the goalkeeper to add Phoenix’s fifth.