Photo courtesy Michael Rincon / Phoenix Rising FC
1. Phoenix Rising FC moved level on points at the top of the Western Conference with Real Monarchs SLC on Wednesday night as once again Solomon Asante came through when the side needed him as he moved level with Chris Cortez to share the team-lead with his 13th goal of the season in a 1-0 victory against Rio Grande Valley FC in the USL Game of the Week at the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex. Rising FC had failed to hit the target with any of its eight official shots before a missed defensive clearance gave Asante a golden chance he took with aplomb to put the visitors ahead, and thanks to a five-save shutout by Rising FC goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski that included a crucial late save to deny RGVFC’s Carlos Small as his back line failed to react quickly enough to a through-ball in the 89th minute, Phoenix set up a big race to the finish at the top of the West’s standings.
2. Indy Eleven extended its undefeated streak to nine games and as importantly ended its three-game home stand on a high note with its 3-0 victory against the New York Red Bulls II that broke a run of three consecutive draws for the side as Eugene Starikov struck twice in the opening 25 minutes to lead the side to all three points. The victory moved Indy into fourth place in the Eastern Conference, its 12th win of the season edging it ahead of the Charleston Battery with both sides on 45 points, and while the hosts had to withstand plenty of pressure from the Red Bulls II attack the organization the side showed in its defensive third provided a foundation for a confidence-building victory before its upcoming two-game road trip.
3. There hasn’t been a lot for Tulsa Roughnecks FC fans to enjoy this season, and the late capitulation against Seattle Sounders FC 2 on Wednesday night that saw the side lose a three-goal lead in a 4-4 draw at Cheney Stadium was another ending that will sting for the side, but they did get to see 17-year-old Jesus Ferreira create a moment of history for the club’s modern era as he notched its first hat trick with a stellar attacking display before S2’s late comeback. The FC Dallas Homegrown signing has made a fine impression while on loan in Tulsa this season and capitalized beautifully on some great service from Nemanja Vukovic – who finished the night with two assists – and Eti Tavares to write his name into the Roughnecks’ record book while doubling his goal total for the season.
PHOENIX – Phoenix Rising FC got a second-half goal from Solomon Asante to take a 1-0 victory against Rio Grande Valley FC at the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex in the USL Game of the Week to move level on points with Real Monarchs SLC at the top of the Western Conference standings with seven games remaining in the regular season. Rising FC went close to taking the lead in the 20th minute as Evan Waldrep’s shot from the right side of the penalty area was just deflected wide of the near post, but while the hosts had the upper hand for most of the first half it was the Toros that almost struck in first-half stoppage time as Carlos Small’s long-range strike was parried over the crossbar by Phoenix goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski to keep the game scoreless at the break. RGVFC threatened again five minutes into the second half as Small had a big chance set up by Jordan Jones, who had drawn Woszczynski, only for the Panamanian’s finish to be deflected just wide of the left post by Rising FC defender Tristan Blackmon on a last-ditch clearance. That play became magnified in the 61st minute as a cross from the left by Phoenix’s Billy Forbes bounced through the penalty area to Asante after a defender missed a chance to clear, and the Ghanaian roofed his finish from just outside the top-right corner of the six-yard area to put the hosts ahead. Josh Perez almost doubled Rising FC’s lead in the 73rd minute as he fired just over the crossbar after a good upfield run opened space 20 yards from goal, while Forbes sent a finish just wide of the near post after juking to create space as he drove in from the right flank a minute later. Small almost grabbed a late equalizer for the Toros in the 89th minute as he got onto a through-ball the Phoenix defense didn’t react to quickly enough, only for Woszczynski to get off his line and parry the shot away, and that save proved the last chance for the visitors as Rising FC recorded its fourth consecutive shutout.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Carl Woszczynski, Phoenix Rising FC – Woszczynski recorded a five-save shutout that included a crucial late stop to preserve all three points for the hosts as they won their fourth consecutive outing.
TACOMA, Wash. – Shandon Hopeau scored with almost the final kick of the game as Seattle Sounders FC 2 rallied from a three-goal deficit to earn a 4-4 draw with Tulsa Roughnecks FC, which got a hat trick from Jesus Ferreira, in a thrilling clash at Cheney Stadium. The Roughnecks had the first good look on goal in the 14th minute when Ferreira’s low effort to the right corner was just turned wide by S2 goalkeeper Calle Brown, but Ferreira opened the scoring two minutes later as a curling delivery from then left by Nemanja Vukovic set up a well-taken finish by the 17-year-old. Tulsa doubled its lead from the penalty spot as Joaquin Rivas scored six minutes before halftime as he shot low into the right corner after Ivan Mirkovic was brought down in the penalty area, but S2 hit back with a spot kick of its own in the first minute of stoppage time as Lamar Neagle converted into the top-left corner of the net. Tulsa almost restored its two-goal lead five minutes into the second half as Brown made an impressive save to keep out Eti Tavarez, but Ferreira struck again on a second feed by Vukovic with a close-range header in the 54th minute for his fifth goal of the season. The 17-year-old then completed his hat trick two minutes later as he slotted home a low finish to the right corner from Tavares’ cross from the right, but Seattle hit back before the hour-mark as Henry Wingo continued the flurry of goals with a volleyed finish after a corner kick was punched close to the top of the penalty area that hit into the turf and found the top-right corner of the net. S2 then pulled within a goal with eight minutes to go as a deflected free kick was sent toward goal by Antonee Burke-Gilroy to allow David Estrada to finish from close range for his 10th goal of the season, and the hosts claimed a point at the death as Hopeau fired home at the near post after weaving into the left side of the penalty area in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Jesus Ferreira, Tulsa Roughnecks FC – Ferreira scored the first hat trick in the Roughnecks’ modern era to put the visitors in position to take victory, only for S2’s late comeback to deny Tulsa its first road win of the season.
INDIANAPOLIS – Indy Eleven moved into the top four in the Eastern Conference with a 3-0 victory against the New York Red Bulls II at Lucas Oil Stadium as the hosts scored all three goals in the first half. Indy took the lead in just the second minute as Eugene Starikov guided home a cross from the right by Dylan Mares and maintained that advantage thanks to a good tipped save three minutes later by goalkeeper Owain Fôn Williams on a free kick by New York’s Andreas Ivan to the top-right corner. New York’s Ethan Kutler flashed a shot just wide of the left post in the 19th minute from the top-left corner of the penalty area, but two minutes later Starikov fired home a first-time left-footed finish from the left side of the penalty to double the host’s lead. Indy added a third just before the halftime break as Reiner Ferreira scored his first goal of the season with a curled shot that found the bottom-right corner of the net. New York’s Anatole Abang had a chance early in the second half that was smothered by Fôn Williams in the right side of the penalty area, and the Red Bulls II hit the crossbar on the hour-mark as a turning shot by Brian White was inches away from a reply. Indy also hit the woodwork six minutes later as Brad Rusin’s header from a free kick found the crossbar, while Abang sent a header just wide of the right post in the 70th minute, but while New York pressed to get back into the game down the final stretch Fôn Williams and his defense held firm for a 10th shutout of the season.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Eugene Starikov, Indy Eleven – Starikov’s two early goals paved the way to victory for the Eleven as they capped their homestand with a win that strongly boosted the club's top-four hopes.