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Rocco Rios Novo is grading up with Rising FC | Young Player Spotlight

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 05/01/23, 3:30PM EDT


20-year-old shot-stopper is proving worth, and pedigree, after arrival in Phoenix

Phoenix Rising FC goalkeeper Rocco Rios Novo has been impressive since his arrival on loan at the club from Argentina's Lanus, with his 27 saves ranking third in the league. | Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC

Over the past few years, there have been some impressive seasons put together by goalkeepers in Phoenix Rising FC’s net.

Even a season ago, with the club’s overall difficulties in a down campaign, Ben Lundt still shone to the point of being nominated for the league’s Goalkeeper of the Year award while posting 115 saves, a save percentage of 69.1 percent, and a goals-prevented (goals conceded–minus–expected goals on target conceded) mark of -4.4.

With Lundt’s transfer to St. Louis CITY SC in Major League Soccer, the club acquired Rocco Rios Novo – the young Argentine with a prodigious background and resume – on loan from Argentine club Lanus to take up the mantle.

So far, he’s lived up to the billing.

Rios Novo has been a key part of Phoenix’s start to the season. His 27 saves – some of which have been breathtaking – rank third in the league. While his goals-against average sits at 1.43 through seven games, the 20-year-old’s impact is on a similar track to Lundt’s with a -1.87 goals-prevented mark so far. Add his passing accuracy in distribution (87.6 percent) and ability to play sweeper in Head Coach Juan Guerra’s system and you have – according to American Soccer Analysis – one of the league’s elite goalkeepers so far this season.

As the starter for Argentina’s U-17 Men’s World Cup squad, Rios Novo found his way into the spotlight. While last year at Atlanta United FC might have seemed a step back, numbers-wise, in Phoenix things appear to be once again moving in the right direction.

Here’s who else caught our eye over the past weekend of action…

- Joshua Wynder, Louisville City FC – Another solid outing by the young center back, who led all players in his side’s clash with Memphis in winning 11 total duels and 3 of 4 tackles.

- Collin Smith, Birmingham Legion FC – The FC Dallas loanee came on at halftime of Legion FC’s comeback win against Harford and was sharp, completing 13 of 15 passes and winning 2 of 2 tackles.

- Danny Rios, Las Vegas Lights FC – The Houston Dynamo loanee made his presence felt in Lights FC’s 1-1 draw at San Antonio, winning 3 of 3 tackles and 4 of 5 duels in 45 minutes of action.

- Miles Lyons, El Paso Locomotive FC – The 20-year-old had to come on in a pinch after an early injury to Marc Navarro in San Diego and was solid at the back, winning a game-high 3 of 3 tackles and 5 of 7 duels.

- Ray Serrano, Louisville City FC – Serrano continued his comeback from injury with a first assist of the season while also notching three chances created and defensively recording 2 of 3 tackles.

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