TEMPE – Phoenix Rising’s not-so-secret weapon – Dollar Beer Night – struck again as the team tied the USL Championship win streak record with a 6-0 thumping of Austin Bold on Friday.
It was a tale of two halves for Rising, as they also extended their perfect record on home Dollar Beer Nights to 12 matches. The victory also marks 10 straight league wins, tied for best in USL Championship history with FC Cincinnati’s run last season.
Rising captain Solomon Asante got the scoring underway for the hosts, guiding his effort safely into the far corner past the hand of Bold’s goalkeeper, Diego Restrepo.
Yet despite Rising looking healthier on the attack, Austin were never out of the game. They employed a very physical game plan, much to the ire of Rising’s fans.
“I said at halftime we’re going to win this game if we match the physicality,” Rising coach Rick Schantz said. “If we come out and we match that with them, because I know we can play, and the guys, they came out and they were so committed to it.”
The second half couldn’t have been any more different, as the Austin defense and midfield collapsed in front of Rising’s loud supporters – Los Bandidos and the Red Fury.
“They were good the first 60 minutes, probably until we went 2-0 up,” Rising’s James Musa said, “and then it kind of got away from them. Probably their spirits went a little bit down, because it’s a tough environment to come with the heat.”
The dollar beers were soon flying through the air, as James Musa doubled Phoenix’s advantage shortly after the break. Solomon Asante added another, his league-leading 14th goal. Asante almost ended with a hat trick, but saw his effort tipped into the path of teammate Adam Jahn, who tucked it away on his behalf.
As the game progressed, Rising continued to add to their lead with goals from Jon Bakero and Joey Calistri, while Austin continued with their very physical play. That physical play in turn led to Bold’s Edson Braafheid being shown a straight red card after he left two cleat marks on Calistri’s chest, Schantz said.
“The referees have to do a better job of protecting the players,” he said. “That was ridiculous.”
He later criticized the officials further, stating that “the league deserves a little bit better right now.”
The other talking point – easily missed with a 6-0 scoreline – is that Zac Lubin recorded a league-high 10th clean sheet in the Rising goal.
“Defending is all about teamwork, which we’ve come together so much as a team, and effort,” Lubin said. “Those are the two big components, and we have guys who want to work, who want clean sheets. We’re not just going after wins, but we want to get clean sheets.”
Rising will have a chance to take the record outright next week, as they travel to face Tulsa Roughnecks.