Rising Hosts Vegas with Fans in the Stands, Tonight at 7:30 PM on CW61 Arizona & ESPN+
Phoenix Rising FC (7-2-2) picked up its third clean sheet and first on the road in the 2020 season, presented by Equality Health, via a 2-0 win against Las Vegas last weekend. Facing Lights FC for the third time in 21 days tonight, head coach Rick Schantz will finally enjoy the luxury of his home pitch with fans in the stands.
"My pregame talks generally focus on something internally important to us, but it has been more difficult this season because without fans, the players don't have that additional motivation when they get out on the field," said Schantz. "You need to give them some extrinsic motivation. As a staff, we had to show the players how invested we were from the sideline. We had to encourage each other because we were missing out on 8,000 people encouraging you to fight and do well."
Having earned four of a possible six points from Vegas already this season, Rising looks to squeeze another three points out of Lights FC at Casino Arizona Field, where the team is 5-0-0 and has outscored opponents 20-4 this season.
"Coming into the third game of a series like this, you don't need to look at a lot of film on the opponent," said Schantz. "It is really an opportunity for us to work on things we need to improve. Whether they sit back in a mid-block or they press, we know what to expect from their players. They've been very hard working. They do not quit. They blocked two goals off the line last Saturday. We know it is not going to be easy. We are glad to be back at home. That'll be a huge difference for us."
In addition to getting three points and a clean sheet on the road last week, Phoenix's win coincided with Los Dos and Orange County splitting their two-game series. Those results pushed Rising five points clear of both teams in the playoff race.
"[Last week was] a massive victory," said Schantz. "It has been a while since we had a win like that. We really grinded it out. In the past, we may have capitalized on some of those other chances and it would have been a three or 4-0 win. The fact we did not and we still kept them off the board... We did not show frustration. We worked through it. I told the guys in the locker room. Those are the type of wins that championship teams need."
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