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Why Danny Trejo’s finishing is even more valuable for Rising FC than you think

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 10/30/23, 1:20PM EDT


Correlation between Trejo’s goals and Phoenix wins might be coincidence, but the pattern of success is undeniable

Phoenix Rising FC's Danny Trejo has scored a career-high 19 goals this season, including finding the net in each of the club's first two postseason contests. | Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC

When the season’s on the line, there’s nothing quite like walking off the field a winner.

So, the excitement and enjoyment in the eyes of Phoenix Rising FC’s Danny Trejo on Saturday night after his side had claimed a 2-1 victory after extra time against Orange County SC to advance to the Western Conference Final of the 2023 USL Championship Playoffs were understandable.

“I’m feeling amazing,” said Trejo on Saturday. “I think the team is catching a good rhythm. So, for us, it’s just to enjoy this one tonight, and then think about the next game.”

As the No. 6 seed in the West, finding the right attacking rhythm and delivering in big moments has been a key so far this postseason for Rising FC.

Against San Diego Loyal SC in the Conference Quarterfinals, it was Dariusz Formella that provided the winner in the 119th minute of one of the games of the season.

On Saturday, it was Emil Cuello’s turn with his 116th-minute winner against Orange County to send Phoenix to its first Western Conference Final since 2020.

But Trejo catching form in the past two games after going more than a month without a goal might be most important for Rising FC’s overall postseason chances.

You see, there’s a correlation between Trejo’s goals and Phoenix’s success that’s hard to deny. In the 17 games in which the 25-year-old has found the net for Rising FC this season, the club has gone 12-2-3. In the games where he’s been held off the scoresheet, the side is 2-8-8.

Coincidence? Maybe, but when it’s come time to find another level in the past two weeks, Trejo has delivered and then some.

“I think a little bit is we know that it’s playoffs, you know, obviously we lose, we’re out,” he said. “Obviously, for me it’s I know the hard work that I put in, so anytime I get to prove it in these games, I’m going to be ready. These are games that I’ve been getting ready since I started the season. And we won this game, very proud of the group, the coaching staff, everybody.”

Want more proof? Consider Phoenix’s two contests this season against the side it will face in the Western Conference Final on Saturday night, Sacramento Republic FC.

When Rising FC last went to Heart Health Park on July 27, the night was a bust for Trejo. Not only did he not find the net, he didn’t record a shot or key pass before getting substituted in the 62nd minute.

When the teams met on August 31 in Phoenix, meanwhile? Trejo produced one goal – which proved the game-winner – as well as two shots on target and one key pass over a full 90 minutes to help the side to a 2-1 victory.

As Rising FC has shown over the course of this season, the club contains numerous players capable of stepping up to be counted when needed.

Trejo, however, might be the most essential to claiming the club’s next piece of silverware.

“Obviously, it’s a big game to go against Sacramento, but we’re going to enjoy it and we’ll be ready by the time that comes,” said Trejo. “The job is not finished, we’ve got to keep going.”

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