The Arizona Republic
Phoenix Rising FC advances in playoffs
Didier Drogba, Jason Johnson and Solomon Asante scored in the Phoenix Rising FC’s first home playoff game, a 3-0 win over Portland Timbers FC 2 on Friday at Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex.
Despite the blowout victory for Phoenix’s first-ever playoff win, the team started the game off slow until Drogba jump-started the team with a laser freekick goal.
“We weren’t playing really well in the first half and for (Drogba) to hit that free kick the way he did, he kind of put the team on his back and he got us that victory,” manager Rick Schantz said.
The strong offensive team that set a team record for regular-season goals this season may have started slow partially because of the game plan to focus on defense.
“As a defense we said, ‘If we keep it at zero (goals) we’re not going to lose,’ ” goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski said. “That’s our goal through today and the rest of the playoffs.”
‘That’s the loudest I’ve heard the stadium’
Schantz and the team was very impressed by the support from fans. The Rising set a team attendance record mark with 7,511 fans.
“That’s the loudest I’ve heard the stadium, ever,” said Woszczynski, who has been on the team all four seasons.
“The crowd was unbelievable,” Schantz said. “The least we could do, and I told the players is to die on the field tonight, I thought everyone gave 100 percent to the cause. We had guys out there that weren’t really 100 percent fit, but it’s the playoffs.”
Depending on the playoff match between the Sacramento Republic and Swope Park Rangers on Saturday night, the third-seeded Rising will either travel to face No. 2-seed Sacramento for their next match or stay at home to play the No. 7 seed Rangers in the USL quarterfinals on a date to be determined.