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Rising coach Danny Stone: “Our only focus is the 90 minutes Saturday night.”

© Patrick Breen/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

Before a critical game against Orange County SC on Sept.30, Phoenix Rising had a training session before media availability today and everyone was calm, but focused, knowing the task at hand on the weekend.

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Coming off three games last week, there is no time relax as every point matters.


When preparing for not just Orange County, but the rest of the season, Rising assistant coach Danny Stone it is not an easy task to play so many games in a row and will do what they can to give them the best opportunity to win Saturday.

“As we approach this game, collectively as a group, we work hard and confidence comes from knowing that you have done the work,” Stone said. “Whether it is video, tactical analysis or physical work during training sessions. If you feel like you did everything you can, then you feel ready and prepared.”

From Jul. 15 to Sept. 2, Orange County won eight-consecutive games.

But, the Californian club have yet to win in their past three games with one tie and two losses since Sept. 9.

When asked about the opposition, Rising midfielder “Panos” Armenakas said they are well aware of Orange County’s form, but who ever they play, players on the Rising know their opponents will be “hungry.”

“Every team goes through their ups and downs,” Armenakas said. “We know they (Orange County) aren’t going through the best moment of their season, but we know they are a strong team because of the position they are in. Some games mean more than just three points and this is one of them.”

Importance of Game

Saturday could very well determine where the Rising will finish and give them and indicator of who their playoff opponent will be.

The USL Western Conference playoff race got even spicier last night as sixth-placed Colorado Springs Switchbacks dismantled Detroit City FC 3-0 last night to only be one point off of third with 46 points.

Furthermore, the San Diego Loyal, Rising, and Orange County are all tied for 47 points, but there’s a massive difference.

Rising have played 31 games this season, the other two clubs tied with them have only played 30.

Even if the Loyal and Orange County both hypothetically lose their next matches and Rising win Saturday, with the game-in-hand for them and a win in their next game, can tie the Rising again in points.

Depending on where they are seeded in the standings, if a team is in the top four, they will have home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

“The club understands the impact of the result as the season ends,” Stone said. “We will be looking to finish as high in the table as possible and have playoff games in Phoenix, but our only focus is the 90 minutes ahead of us Saturday.”

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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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