Drogba talks about the Rising’s win over the Switchbacks on Saturday night.

Penalty call dooms Rising, enrages fans

July 29, 2017

On a humid night at Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex, drama on the playing field did not make the 5,463 fans in attendance any more comfortable.

Playing in a scoreless tie in the 83rd minute, San Antonio FC forward Cesar Elizando ran headlong into Phoenix Rising FC goalkeeper Josh Cohen and was awarded a penalty kick.

But before San Antonio midfielder Rafa Castillo could attempt to take the kick, fans began throwing various objects onto the field as Cohen and his teammates argued the call. Two minutes later, Castillo finally stepped to the ball and gave San Antonio a 1-0 road victory over the Rising.

In an all-around ugly night for the Rising and its fans, the game featured a total of 10 yellow cards, five for each team. There was pushing and shoving throughout the game, and tempers finally boiled over after the penalty kick.

“It’s definitely rough,” Cohen said. “I saw a good ball come in, so I came out and set my feet, but he came in with his cleat to kind of knock it out of the air. He came in knee first and went right into my chest. I’m not sure what else I could have done there.”

Still, the Rising (6-7-4) had a number of good offensive chances. Forward Didier Drogba, who is also a part-owner of the team, registered a pair of shots on goal in the first 15 minutes of play and just missed a free kick against San Antonio goalkeeper Diego Restropo in the 90th minute.

After San Antonio (11-1-7) took the lead, fans continued to rain down boos and pelt the field with debris. On the ensuing possession after the goal, one San Antonio player was hit by what appeared to be a bottle thrown from the stands.

“I can understand (the frustration),” Rising coach Patrice Carteron said. “We really deserved at least a draw tonight. I don’t want to stand here and argue the penalty. The game is over.”

Prior to last week’s loss against Tulsa Roughnecks FC, the Rising had been unbeaten in their last six contests (2-0-4). The Rising drop to 1-3-1 all-time vs. San Antonio, with the only win coming in Phoenix.

The Rising had a chance last week to vault into playoff position in the Western Conference, but two straight defeats have put them in 11th place, three points behind the eighth and final playoff position.

In a contest that featured a number of chances for Phoenix to break a scoreless tie, drama would brew throughout the match and eventually turn into a night to forget for the Rising.

“Late in the game like that, especially when we have momentum going our way, it’s really tough,” Cohen said. “There’s frustration on the field but there’s definitely frustration with the fans.”

Rising look to regroup vs. San Antonio FC

July 26, 2017

Phoenix Rising FC lost for the first time under head coach Patrice Carteron and fell to 6-6-4 on the season with a loss to host Tulsa Roughnecks FC last weekend, but on Saturday the club will look to regain its footing in a playoff race when the Rising play host to San Antonio FC.

The match starts at 8 p.m. at Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex.

The Rising have lost just the one match in six contests since the arrival of both Carteron and Didier Drogba, who had an injury scare in Tulsa but returned to the game later.

Drogba and Jason Johnson lead the team with four goals apiece, and Luke Rooney ranks second with three tallies this season. Josh Cohen leads Phoenix in net, having saved 45 of 68 shots against him (66.2 percent) in 2017.

Phoenix Rising FC 2017 schedule

Saturday, July 29

San Antonino FC

8 p.m.

Saturday, August 5

at LA Galaxy II

7:30 p.m.

Saturday, August 12

at Rio Grande Valley

5:30 p.m.

Friday, August 18

at Orange County Soccer Club

7:30 p.m.

Saturday, August 26

Sacramento Rebublic FC

7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 2

Seattle Sounders FC 2

7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 6

Orange County Soccer Club

7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 9

at Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC

5 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 16

Real Monarchs SLC

7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 20

at Seattle Sounders FC 2

7:30 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 24

at Whitecaps FC 2

3 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 27

at Portland Timbers 2

7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 30

at Sacramento Rebubli FC

7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 4

Tulsa Roughnecks FC

7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 7

Rio Grande Valley FC

7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 14

Portland Timbers 2

7:30 p.m.

Rising lose for first time under Carteron

July 22, 2017

Phoenix Rising FC got an injury scare from Didier Drogba in a 3-0 loss to host Tulsa Roughnecks FC on Saturday night. Drogba went down on the pitch in the 75th minute, but he returned without incident as Rising FC (6-6-4) suffered the first loss under new coach Patrice Carteron.

July 21, 2017

Phoenix Rising FC heads back out on the road this weekend looking to extend their club-record six-match unbeaten streak against Tulsa Roughnecks FC on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. Rising FC (6-5-4) have yet to lose under head coach Patrice Carteron and are coming off a come-from-behind victory against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC last Saturday. 

Phoenix Rising FC 2017 results

Saturday, July 22

Tulsa Roughnecks 3, Rising 0

Saturday, March 25

Toronto FC II 1, Rising 0

Saturday, April 1

Real Monarchs 2, Rising 0

Saturday, April 8

Rising 2, LA Galaxy II 1

Sunday, April 23

Rising 4, Swope Park Rangers 3

Saturday, May 6

Reno 1868 FC 4, Rising 0

Saturday, May 13

Rising 2, OKC Energy FC 1

Saturday, May 20

San Antonio FC 1, Rising 0

Saturday, May 27

Rising 2, LA Galaxy II 1

Tuesday, June 6

OKC Energy FC 3, Rising 2

Saturday, June 10

Rising 2, Whitecaps FC2 1

Sunday, June 18

Rising 2, Swope Park Rangers, 2

Saturday, June 24

Rising 1, Real Monarchs SLC 1

Friday, June 30

Rising 0, Reno 1868 0

Saturday, July 8

Rising 1, Orange County Soccer Club 1

Saturday, July 15

Rising 2, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC 1

Saturday, July 22

Rising 0, Tulsa Roughnecks FC 3

Report: Phoenix Rising may be ahead of others in race for stadium, MLS bid

July 18, 2017

From Andrew Vailliencourt

The Phoenix Rising FC ownership group may be further along with plans for a stadium than any of the other 11 cities competing for one of four Major League Soccer expansion slots, Kyle Kepner of reports.

Kepner also reports that team officials met with seven different architects in Kansas City, where MLS officials were present. It is from those seven that the Rising will pick from. 

MLS is set to announce the next two expansion teams for the league by the end of 2017, and Phoenix is suddenly in a strong position since many of the other cities are struggling with finalizing stadium plans. Phoenix is one of 12 cities that submitted a bid at the beginning of this year. 

Other cities in play for the four MLS expansion spots are San Antonio, San Diego, Detroit, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Raleigh/Durham, N.C., Charlotte, N.C., Sacramento, Calif., Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla., and Indianapolis.

The Rising, according to the report, has also been working on a way to control the climate without needing to build a dome, which would be very costly. Team officials are confident that the new stadium will accomplish this and be state-of-the-art. 

The proposed stadium would be built on the plot of land where the team currently plays. The Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex is on the southwest section of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, near both Tempe and Scottsdale.

Renderings of the new stadium will be made public after a decision has been made. 

Follow Andrew Vailliencourt on Twitter: @AndrewVcourt

Jason Johnson powers Phoenix Rising to win against Colorado Springs

July 15, 2017

Jason Johnson was ready.

The forward who came into the match as a substitute at halftime, waited in the center of the box as Didier Drogba lined up the corner kick in the 84th minute. He drilled a low line drive right towards Johnson who leaped up and headed the ball into the net for the goal.

It was Johnson’s second of the night, who led the Phoenix Rising comeback against the Colorado Springs Switchbacks. The Rising won 2-1 and improved to 6-5-4 on the season with 22 points. 

“ (Coach) Patrice (Carteron) wants us to win every game, and that’s the mentality we need to have,” Drogba said. “We cannot win every time, but at least you have to give everything and that’s what we have been doing.”

After struggling mightily in the first half, the Rising offense picked up in the middle of the second half. 

“I would like my players to be more active from the start of the game,” Carteron said.

In the 64th minute Eric Avila had a clear look but shot it just over the crossbar. Just two minutes later, though, Johnson scored his first of the contest.

Victor Vasquez dribbled up the left side of the field and hit a cross into the box. Omar Bravo was there, but the ball deflected off him and straight towards Colorado Springs keeper Moise Poutay.

However, the pouring rain left the ball slippery, and Poutay couldn’t take hold of the ball, leaving just enough time for Johnson to streak in and put it in the back of the net.

“Being down a goal at home is never a good thing, so your main (objective as a sub) is to lift the team energy,” Johnson said. “It’s something you can’t see, but when you give, you feel it. I was happy to do that for the team tonight.”

The goal equalized the match at one in the 66th minute. 

“The team has improved,” Drogba said. “Before, when we gave up that goal, we would have lost that game. We have the spirit to come back. We have a team of young guys full of energy and you saw that today with a desire to win here at home.”

Phoenix dominated time of possession, yet played a very poor first half, not able to generate much offense and allowing Colorado Springs to score in the 12th minute on a shot by Kevaughn Frater.

The Rising have not lost since Drogba or Carteron joined the team, going 2-0-4 in the last six games. 

“My philosophy in football is that there are three more important things (than the fans),” Carteron said. “One: the result, two: the result, three: the result. If you use every day to win, you like to win in training then you’ll win the day of the game. That’s part of the thing I want our fans to feel is that we are fighting every time to give them the three points.”

Rising waste time-of-possession advantage in first half

Despite holding possession of the ball for over 67 percent of the first half, the Rising were unable to score a goal. Phoenix really never even got any quality scoring chances. 

The Rising had just three first half shots, only one of which was on target and that came in the final minutes of the half.

Meanwhile, the Switchbacks took advantage of their limited opportunities. They scored once in the first half on a Kevaughn Frater bullet in the 12th minute. They held the ball for only 32.2 percent of the half. 

Colorado Springs had five shots, two on target and one corner kick in the half.

Looking ahead

Next up for the Rising is a trip to Oklahoma where they will take on the Tulsa Roughnecks FC at Oneok Field.

The Roughnecks are 7-8-1 with 22 points overall. They currently hold the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. In their most recent match, Tulsa tied the Los Angeles Galaxy II 2-2. 

Follow Andrew Vailliencourt on Twitter: @AndrewVcourt


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July 14, 2017

The boost that Didier Drogba has given Phoenix Rising FC has been unmeasurable. That is, if you don’t count the five-match unbeaten streak. 

Since the arrival of Drogba, who is also a part-owner of the team, and new head coach Patrice Carteron, the Rising (5-5-4) have quickly climbed the USL Western Conference standings. Phoenix now sits just two games out of playoff position.

The Rising will host Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC at Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex on Saturday at 8 p.m. This is the first meeting between the sides this season.

Colorado Springs (6-6-4) occupy the sixth position in the conference and have played four more games than the Rising. The Switchbacks are coming off a 2-2 home draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2.

The Rising have collected draws in four straight matches in the five contests since the introduction of Drogba and Carterton. The first match was a 2-1 win over the Whitecaps at Phoenix.

While the two clubs possess potent offensive threats, both the Rising and Switchbacks boast two of the league’s top goalkeepers. Phoenix net minder Josh Cohen has yielded just one goal in his last five contests, and places third the Western Conference in saves with 38.

Drogba leads the Rising in goals (4) and shots (24), despite having only played in just over a third of the team’s contests. Luke Rooney is second on the team with three goals this season.

Colorado Springs’ goalkeeper Moise Poutay has recorded four shutouts this season and collected 51 saves, marks that rank third- and second-best, respectively, in the conference.

The Switchbacks own one of the more balanced attacks in the USL, with midfielder Masta Kacher leading the team with five goals — but forward Kevaughn Frater and defender Jordan Burt are not far behind with four goals apiece.

The two teams have met four times in league history, with all four decisions resulting in a loss for Phoenix. Last season, Colorado Springs made the trip and knocked off the Rising, 3-1, in their only meeting of 2016. The Switchbacks are the only franchise from which the Rising have not collected a point.

Gates will open at 6:30 p.m. and the first 1,000 fans will receive a free Italian ice from Angelo’s Italian Ice & Gelato.

– Richard Morin

Drogba scores late to secure draw

July 8

Didier Drogba scored in stoppage time to give Phoenix Rising FC a point following a 1-1 tie with Orange County SC on Saturday night in Irvine, Calif. 

Phoenix Rising FC returns to Arizona on July 15 to take on Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC. The match is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.

Rising plays to scoreless draw

June 30

Phoenix Rising FC matched a franchise-record-long unbeaten streak of four after playing to a 0-0 draw with Reno 1868 FC on Friday night in Nevada. 

Phoenix Rising ties Real Monarchs SLC

June 24

In a game that was delayed due to heat concerns, Phoenix Rising FC used sweltering temperatures to cool off the hottest team in the United Soccer League.

It took just a goal to tie the first-place Real Monarchs SLC, 1-1, at Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex on Saturday — snapping the Monarchs’ league-record nine-match win streak.

“We really wanted to beat the leader,” Rising head coach Peter Carteron said. “Definitely we are thankful of the point today against a team just beat the record with nine games won consecutively. I’m proud of what we did today.”

Rising forward Omar Bravo collected a pass from midfielder Matt Watson and served one past Monarchs goalkeeper Connor Sparrow to even the score in the 45th minute.

The Monarchs drew first blood in the 12th minute, when midfielder Daniel Haber beat Rising goalkeeper Josh Cohen. Phoenix had several chances in the first half but could not execute until Bravo’s tally right before the break.

Phoenix (5-5-2) collected its second straight draw with the result, as neither the first-place Monarchs (12-1-1) nor Phoenix could break through in the second half.

“We’re at home, we’re always trying to get after team and get wins, especially at home,” Cohen said. “But coming away with a point against a Monarchs side that’s won nine straight games is definitely not a bad result.”

Rising forward Didier Drogba, who is also a part owner of the team, had multiple scoring chances in the first half. In the 23rd minute, the former Chelsea star fired just wide on a 35-foot penalty shot.

After going down with what appeared to be a non-contact injury 10 minutes later, Drogba reentered the game and just missed on a close-range header attempt on Sparrow.

Phoenix’s best scoring chance in the second half came in the 86th minute when Drogba didn’t get all of his header attempt and was again denied by Sparrow. In stoppage time, midfielder Shaun Wright-Phillips laid up a corner kick that was whiffed on by forward Jason Johnson.

The announced attendance was 6,365, Phoenix’s second straight USL sellout at their home stadium.

Carterton said that because his team trains in the Valley every day, home field advantage gives his team an extra edge during excessively warm days.

“It’s definitely an advantage for us,” Cohen said. “And it’s something that we look forward to keeping on using throughout the summer months.”

Swope Park preview

June 23, 2017

Didier Drogba and Phoenix Rising FC have a tall order this Saturday when the team hosts Real Monarchs SLC, the Western Conference leader currently riding a league-record nine-match win streak. 

The Rising (5-5-1) come into the match on the heels of a 2-2 draw on the road against the Swope Park Rangers on Sunday. Twice tying the match, Drogba, who made his debut with the team on June 10, connected on a penalty kick in the final moments of the contest to help the Rising stay unbeaten all-time against the Rangers.

The 39-year-old Drogba, who is also a part owner of the team, notched a goal and assist for the rising in his first appearance against the Vancouver Whitecaps. The former Chelsea standout said it was difficult for him to play the entire match in his debut, but with a pair of goals on Sunday it appears the cobwebs are quickly clearing.

Drogba has assisted on all four of the team’s goals (3 goals, 1 assist) in just two matches with the club, and joins Luke Rooney for the team lead in scoring. Jason Johnson and Shaun Wright-Phillips have two goals apiece. Kody Wakasa leads the club with three assists and Omar Bravo has two. Seven other players are tied for third with one helper this season.

The opponent

The Rising — which has won its last two contests — lost to the Monarchs, 2-0, at Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah on April 1. But the conference front runners lead the league with 32 goals and are the only team with two top-10 goal scorers (Chandler Hoffman 8, Sebastian Velazquez 6).

The Monarchs (12-1-0) are 5-1-0 on the road this season and have a perfect 7-0-0 mark at home. 

The club broke the USL record for consecutive wins at home on Monday with a 2-1 victory against Reno 1868 behind goals from Taylor Peay and Andrew Brody. The Monarchs have seen 13 different players score this season, and have had 11 contests with multiple goals — by far the most balanced attack in the league.

Also with five shutouts this season, the Monarchs boast one of the league’s stingiest defenses having allowed just three goals in their last 674 minutes played.

Start time changed due to heat

Kickoff at Phoenix Rising FC Soccer Complex was originally scheduled for 7:30 p.m., but was pushed back to 8 to alleviate concerns about the heat. Additionally, the team is offering free bottles of water to the first 4,000 fans as well as celebratory bandanas.

Saturday’s high is expected to be 114 degrees and it will be about 108 when the game starts.

The stadium is equipped with multiple cooling stations as well as night-long drink specials. 

For more information and to purchase tickets, go to

Didier Drogba scores late goal to give Rising a draw

June 18, 2017

by Andrew Vailliencourt, azcentral sports

Phoenix Rising FC leaned on a Didier Drogba penalty kick to earn a 2-2 draw against Swope Park Rangers on the road Sunday. The club is now 5-5-1 and remains unbeaten all-time against Swope Park. The Rangers are now 5-4-2.

Phoenix Rising FC trailed by a goal going into the final moments of the match. But forward Omar Bravo drew a foul in the box and a penalty kick. Drogba stepped up to the spot and struck a near perfect shot into the left side netting to equalize 2-2.

It was the second time Drogba tied the match. With the club down 1-0 in the 57th minute, Swope Park gave up a bad turnover deep in their own zone. Midfielder Shaun Wright-Phillips jumped on the loose ball and found Drogba in the middle of the pitch. With space between him and the defender, Drogba sent a shot inside the far right post to tie the match.

– azcentral sports news sources

Drogba creates buzz

June 10, 2017

He may be 39 years old, but Didier Drogba was still the best player on the field Saturday night when he made his debut for Phoenix Rising FC. 

After missing on several chances early, Drogba connected on a header in the 40th minute to put Phoenix ahead on his first career goal with the team. His assist on Shaun Wright-Phillips’ goal in the 77th minute was enough to power Rising FC to a 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2. 

The win was a big one, as the team improved to 5-5 on the season, good for a total of 15 points and a seventh place tie in the Western Conference standings. Vancouver dropped to 4-6-2, with 14 points.

Drogba noted that it’s always nice to score goals, but that getting the win was the most important thing. He is the first owner to ever score a goal for his team.

“I think Vancouver played very well,” Drogba said. “They had good position of the ball, but we were more efficient than them and I think we played a bit more with our head and controlled the game.”

7,062 fans were in attendance for the match, which had been highly anticipated due to both Drogba and head coach Patrice Carteron making their debuts. It couldn’t have gone much better for the pair. 

“7,000 people here in the stadium today, it’s fantastic,” Carteron said. “I’m happy that we won this game.”

Vancouver notched its lone goal on a penalty kick by Marco Bustos in the 68th minute. That kick followed a yellow card given to Kody Wakasa after a foul in the box.

The story of the game was Drogba, who seemingly had a chance to score every time he touched the ball. There was a noticeable buzz around the stadium prior to kickoff that only grew as time went on. He played the entire match.

“It was very difficult for me after six months without practicing,” Drogba said. “It took me five weeks to get back into this kind of shape. I still need a few weeks to improve, but it’s good to start at home and to start with the three points.”

Phoenix will be back in action on Sunday in Kansas City to take on the Swope Park Rangers. Their next home match will take place on Saturday, June 24 against Real Monarchs Salt Lake City.

“Most of the fans came to see (Drogba) today and he showed that he’s still a great player,” Carteron said. “So I’m really happy for our fans, I’m really happy for Phoenix Rising and I’m really happy for all of you to have the pleasure of seeing such a player.”


Drogba scored in Phoenix’s 2-1 win Saturday.

Drogba hype

The moment had been building since April. 

Didier Drogba, a soccer legend who starred in the World Cup with Ivory Coast and with Chelsea in the English Premier League, trotted out onto the field to join his new Phoenix Rising FC teammates.

The anticipation and buzz that had been growing all evening in the hot sun finally reached a climax, and the packed stands at the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex erupted. 

Sure, the fans were excited about the 39-year-old international star, but Drogba is more than just a new player. He is a symbol for this franchise – a symbol of hope, excitement and significance in the soccer world. That sentiment was echoed by fans prior to the start of the match against Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2. 

“The fact that a legend and a new manager are making their debut makes today special,” fan Vincent Castelamare said. “It is extremely exciting that the club has owners that have the passion for the sport as well as the business acumen to bring success and, hopefully, the MLS. The in-stadium experience has been first class.”

In the 40th minute, Drogba connected on a header into the right side of the net for his first career goal with Phoenix for a 1-0 lead. The crowd was electric.

Fans lined up more than two hours ahead of the scheduled start time, eager to fill the stadium. 

“I’m excited because other people are excited,” fan Nick Tapia said. 

Excitement is contagious, and it’s clear that it is spreading.

The signing of Drogba and the experience at games this season has left a positive impression on fans, who have seemingly bought in to the idea of soccer in Phoenix.

“I’m extremely excited about the future of soccer in Arizona with this new ownership group,” fan Michael Vanderplas said. “It’s a night-and-day difference between them and what we grew use to.”

The fan base is craving stability within ownership, and the belief is that they finally have that with Berke Bakay and the rest of the ownership group. 

“After three ownership groups, three names, and four ‘home’ stadiums in the past four years, I’m hoping we’ve finally set a stake in the ground for professional soccer in Arizona,” fan Brian Johnson said. “This will be a milestone evening.”

Phoenix is one of 12 cities that submit a bid to join the MLS, and the addition of Drogba and reputation of the owners will make it hard for the league to say no.

“I want Phoenix to have an MLS team to enjoy and be proud of,” longtime fan Ken Knighton said. “Phoenix is the largest city in the U.S. without MLS. I have been following this franchise from the beginning in 2014 to watch the growth and progress and to be part of what will possibly be the fifth major-league team in Phoenix. Once this ownership group took control last August they have made amazing progress in reaching these goals.”

Before the game, Drogba said he doesn’t want fans to look at him like just another player on the team. He doesn’t have to worry about that because him simply being in Phoenix sends a stronger message to fans about the future of the sport in this city than any goal he will ever score here.

“I think the atmosphere will be electric,” fan Douglas Schuttenberg said. “I’m excited for Drogba’s debut. Every game this season has been enjoyable for me, win or lose. This ownership group has done everything one could expect to take the game to a new level in this town, and it’s working. Big names, new stadium and quality players. They are creating many new fans in my opinion.”

June 9, 2017

The long-awaited playing debut of Didier Drogba is here, as the Phoenix Rising’s player/owner is set to take the field on Saturday.

Rising FC (4-5-0) hosts Whitecaps FC 2 (4-5-2) at the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday’s game will also mark the debut of Patrice Carteron, who was named head coach on May 22.

The game will be televised live on Cox 7 and the team’s youtube channel.

Rising FC falls to OKC FC

June 6

Phoenix Rising FC ended its three-match road trip with a 3-2 loss to Oklahoma City Energy FC. Defender J.J. Greer and midfielder Eder Arreola scored their first goals of the season in the loss.

The club will return home this Saturday, June 10, to take on Whitecaps FC 2. That match kicks off at 7:30 p.m. It will also be the debut for international soccer superstar Didier Drogba.

Rising’s games are carried live on Cox cable channel 7 as well as the team’s youtube channel,