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Phoenix Rising FC

Rising to the occasion

© Joe Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

With the regular season concluding for the Phoenix Rising, USL playoff seedings are on the line and every game is crucial.

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Their latest game was a draw where they broke through late to tie with El Paso Locomotive 1-1 on Sept. 23.

Down 1-0 in the 90+1 minute, Rising forward Dariusz Formella came off the bench as a substitute and tied the game after quick link-up play between him, forward Carlos Harvey and forward Danny Trejo before Formella curled it past Locomotive goalkeeper Benny Diaz to knot the game up at 1-1.

The draw marked seven-straight games where the Rising have been unbeaten and picked up at least a point.

Captain’s Insight

Rising defender and captain Darnell King says that they are preparing as if they are going to be playing for a championship each game from this point forward.

“Not being complacent is what I try to instill into my teammates,” King said. “If you are complacent, you open the door for other teams to sneak in and put you in a tough position. Every game from this point forward is like a final for us and that’s what our mentality needs to be.”

As the match against Orange County SC approaches, could decide who will finish third through fifth in the USL Western Conference.

At the time of reporting, Rising are fourth and Orange County are in fifth.

The San Diego Loyal, Rising, and Orange County all have 47 points, but the Loyal are third because of a game-in-hand.

Even though the season is coming to an end soon, King said there is added pressure that can affect the squad, but he feels they are dealing with it accordingly.

“Obviously, with the end of the season upon us, there will be more media and distractions that will start to flare up,” King said. “It is important to stay calm as a group because we have to be strong when the games arise.”

Recently, Orange County are coming off their last outing being a 4-0 loss to San Antonio SC on Sept. 23.

That defeat marked three games in-a-row that Orange County hasn’t been victorious.

King, along with his teammates, know that every team will bring their best effort.

“With every team, anything can happen on any given day,” King said. “You have to come in hungry, whether on a three-game losing streak or five-game winning streak. Treat every game like it’s your last.”

Implications of Outcome

With a win for either side, it will give them a three-point cushion above the other.

Additionally, if sixth-place Colorado Springs Switchbacks beats Detroit City FC tomorrow, they will have 46 points, one off the three-way tie for third.

With favorable playoff matchups on the line, it is crucial for both teams to win.

The Rising clash with Orange County at Phoenix Rising Soccer Stadium on Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m.


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Alec Cipollini is a journalist covering the Arizona Coyotes and Phoenix Rising for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on his new X account @CipolliniBCS

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