Photo courtesy Michael Rincon / Phoenix Rising FC
PHOENIX – Omar Bravo’s first league goal for Phoenix Rising FC earned the hosts a 1-1 draw with Real Monarchs SLC on Saturday night in front of 6,365 fans at the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex, ending the Monarchs’ USL record nine-game winning streak. Rising FC threatened early, but the Monarchs (12-1-1, 37pts) took the lead in the 12th minute as a near-post cross from the left by Demar Phillips was turned home on the volley by Daniel Haber for his third goal of the season. Phoenix (5-5-2, 17pts) carried more of the play in the first half, and Didier Drogba fired an effort on goal from 20 yards in the 23rd minute. The former Ivory Coast international then set up a big chance six minutes before the break as his header from a corner was blocked on the line, and Omar Bravo’s effort went just wide on the rebound. Bravo notched his first goal in league action in the final minute of the half as a great piece of interplay by Drogba and Matt Watson on the right set up a sliding finish for Bravo at the back post. The Monarchs went close just past the hour-mark as Chandler Hoffman sprang out on a counter-attack, but fired wide of the left post. Moments later Sebastian Velasquez fired high as Real opened up another chance, while Andrew Brody also had a shot saved after cutting into the penalty area with 20 minutes to go. Phoenix pressed late for a winner, and substitute Jason Johnson had a flicked finish from a cross on the right that was blocked aside, but the Monarchs held firm on the ensuing corner to assure themselves of a valuable road point.
12’ – SLC – Daniel Haber (Demar Phillips)
45’ – PHX – Omar Bravo (Matt Watson)
#PHXvSLC: Full Match and Opta Box Score
Three Things That Matter:
1. A front line of Didier Drogba, Omar Bravo and Shaun Wright-Phillips might be an intimidating task for some USL Western Conference clubs, but the resolve and timing the Monarchs’ defense showed in earning a result on the road belied the experience of the group as it stood firm regularly with well-timed tackles and blocks. Maybe the most impressive facet of the performance for Real was how the visitors were able to control possession in sweltering conditions on the road, though, as the Monarchs looked slightly the more dangerous side after the break.
2. Omar Bravo’s first league goal for Phoenix Rising FC has been a long time coming, but the legendary Mexican striker has been doing a lot right for his new club since the start of the season and had earned his reward when the chance came in the final minute of the first half. Along with the rest of the squad, Bravo’s production figures to increase with the presence of Didier Drogba on the field. The set-up for the goal provided by Drogba and Matt Watson was excellent, and Bravo’s run put him in a perfect position to capitalize on the chance.
3. The Monarchs’ nine-game winning streak came to an end with the draw, but given San Antonio’s draw on Saturday night and the game in hand held by the Monarchs the side should come away the happier of the two clubs. Real looked sharp in tough conditions at the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex, and might even have stolen all three points with some of the chances the side created. Now unbeaten in 10 games, they’ll head to Oklahoma next weekend looking to continue an outstanding run of form.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Omar Bravo, Phoenix Rising FC – Bravo’s first USL goal for Phoenix highlighted a performance where his movement off the ball and connectivity were a major plus for the side.
Phoenix Rising FC at Reno 1868 FC – June 30, 10:30 p.m. ET, Greater Nevada Field
Real Monarchs SLC at Tulsa Roughnecks FC – July 1, 8:30 p.m. ET, ONEOK Field