TACOMA, Wash. – A late goal by Santi Moar earned Phoenix Rising FC a 2-1 victory against Tacoma Defiance on Saturday night at Cheney Stadium as the visitors became the first team to book its place in the USL Championship Playoffs this season as the Spanish forward scored in his sixth consecutive game for the side.
Neither side created much in the early going as a shot by Tacoma’s Reed Baker-Whiting in the 12th minute that curled wide of the top-right corner was the only real effort on goal in the opening half-hour. Phoenix’s first good look at goal came in the 32nd minute as Moar sent a low cross from the left that came all the way to Solomon Asante in the right side of the penalty area, but his finish went well over the crossbar.
Asante had another opportunity from a free kick from distance shortly before the halftime break that resulted in a comfortable save by Tacoma goalkeeper Christian Herrera, but the best chance either side had created to that point came to the hosts just past the hour-mark as a pass through by Ray Serrano found Samuel Adeniran in space to shoot, only for Phoenix defender Darnell King to close quickly and block his shot off target.
The game finally began to heat up in the final 20 minutes as Asante had a good effort from 25 yards toward the top-right corner of the net parried wide by Herrera. Rising FC took the lead with 12 minutes to go, however, as King found space on the right flank to deliver a good back-post cross that second-half substitute Jon Bakero volleyed in from close range.
The Defiance hit back just two minutes later as Rising FC goalkeeper Andre Rawls missed his clearance as he came beyond his penalty area to try and head off Adeniran, and instead gave the Defiance forward an open net to finish into. Phoenix pressed late for all three points, though, and in the final minute it paid off as after a corner kick from the right by Aodhan Quinn was punched out by Herrera the visitors recycled possession back to Quinn. His second delivery was half-cleared, but only to Moar, who controlled on his right thigh and then fired on the half-volley through a forest of players as the ball took a deflection off a defender on its way to the back of the net.
Phoenix almost added a third in stoppage time as Luis Seijas went after his first goal in the club’s colors with a shot that Herrera had to palm wide of the left post, but Moar’s goal proved enough to send Rising FC into the postseason and one step closer to a division crown.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Santi Moar, Phoenix Rising FC – Moar came through late for the visitors for his sixth consecutive game with a goal as he finished the night with three shots and two key passes while completing 37 of 43 passes overall.
PHX – Jon Bakero (Darnell King) 78’
TAC – Samuel Adeniran 80’
PHX – Santi Moar 90’