The USL Championship’s Western Conference semifinals today was held at Casino Arizona Field. However, the host once again disappointed the home fans and finished the season with a 1–2 loss to the Real Monarchs. Though Phoenix Rising ended the season with a twenty game-winning streak, they broke their fans’ hearts.
In Arizona, there were no Major League Soccer teams, so Phoenix Rising from the second-highest level of the US soccer system, USL Championship, was the best soccer team the Arizona local fans could have. You could tell from the atmosphere at Casino Arizona Field and understand that the Rising built a pretty amazing fanbase there. The Phoenix soccer fans cheered for their team loud enough that people can even hear their voices from the official Youtube broadcast. In the recent 3 years, the Rising got some decent results and went into the playoffs. In 2017, Phoenix recruited the Chelsea legend, Didier Drogba, as a player-owner of the club. In 2018, the Rising fought till the very end and came up just short and finished with runners-up. In the 2019 season, Phoenix still put up some big numbers. 24 wins, 4 losses, 6 ties, and the overall 78 points helped them to clinch the regular season title-winners of the league.
At the start of the Western Conference semifinals, Phoenix seized the opportunity while 15 minutes were left in the first half. Junior Flemmings received a wonderful through pass from Adam Jahn and put the ball in the bottom corner in the net. Phoenix took the lead in the early first half, but things were dried out in the desert before the second half. Real Monarchs made a quick build-up and shared the ball pretty well, which led to an equalizing goal from Jack Blake in the 33rd minute. Not long after, Maikel Chang dribbled in a tight area, made a decisive shot, and the ball found the back of the net. This goal made by Chang and assisted by Noah Powder helped the team taking the away win and led the Monarchs into the Western Conference Final. The Monarch’s opponent will be decided tomorrow when El Paso Locomotive will be hosting the crucial game against Sacramento Republic FC.