PHOENIX, Az. – Saint Louis FC fell 2-0 to Phoenix Rising FC in front of 6,377 fans at Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex in Match 33 of the USL Regular Season.
Saint Louis FC came into the match only needing 4 points to guarantee a playoff spot with San Antonio FC’s win earlier in the evening, so a draw would have been a decent result against the second-place team in the USL Western Conference. However, Phoenix Rising FC would break the deadlock in the 82nd minute through substitute Billy Forbes and double their advantage in second half stoppage time with a free kick from Chris Cortez to claim all three points. Saint Louis FC falls to 13-9-10 and remains on 49 points while Phoenix Rising FC improves to 19-7-5 with 62 points in the USL Western Conference.
The first half saw Phoenix Rising create a majority of the chances with the first arriving in the 1st minute as Gladson Awako forced a diving save out of STLFC goalkeeper Tomas Gomez with a shot from the top of the box. STLFC would respond with a counter attack in the 4th minute that resulted in a Kadeem Dacres effort that was collected by Phoenix goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski. Gomez would come up with two great saves to preserve his clean sheet going into halftime, the first on Solomon Asante’s shot on a tight angle at the near post in the 20th minute before denying Amadou Dia with a kick save in the 23rd minute in a one-on-one situation as both teams were even at 0-0 going into the halftime break.
The second half saw Saint Louis FC grow into the game with a counter attack that was started by Kyle Greig and laid off to Joey Calistri and was then capped off by a Wal Fall shot that hit the post in the 50th minute. Gomez was then called into action seconds later to tip Didier Drogba’s shot from about 30 yards over the crossbar. Gomez had another diving save in the 68th minute to deny Asanta again from finding the bottom corner. However, the STLFC defense could not hold out as substitute Forbes collected the ball from a turnover at the top of the box caused by former Saint Louis FC player James Musa and his shot flew past Gomez for the game winner in the 82nd minute. Fellow-substitute Cortez would then add another in stoppage time with a curling free kick to insure the win as Phoenix Rising FC looks to claim first-place in the USL Western Conference.
“Disappointed for the players as they worked so hard tonight,” said STLFC Head Coach Anthony Pulis. “Unfortunately, we were the masters of our own downfall in the last 10 minutes by gifting them two incredibly soft goals. However, we’re still in a good position as destiny is in our own hands with two home games remaining.”