The turnaround this week will be quick for Energy FC, as Phoenix Rising FC come to Taft Stadium Wednesday night. The two sides meet again for the third time in 2018. The first meeting, a preseason friendly in March, ended in a 2-2 draw. The second, a league matchup in week two, resulted in a 4-1 win for Phoenix. This will be the last time the teams face each other in 2018 league play.
Since their last matchup, the clubs have fared much differently. Phoenix has gone on to win four, lose one and draw three. That's good enough for 4th in the Western Conference — just three points off the top of the table with a game in hand. Phoenix handed OKC its first loss of the season, which was the start of the current streak, so the Greens will be looking to close the loop and put the winless run to an end on Wednesday.
As Energy FC witnessed firsthand in March, Phoenix Rising have no shortage of dangerous attacking options. Chris Cortez hit a hat trick on that night, and Solomon Asante chipped in with a goal-of-the-week contender. Didier Drogba will not likely make the trip, as the Ivorian prefers not to play on artificial surfaces. Phoenix is not a one or even a two-man team, however, with the likes of Cortez and Asante, as well as Jason Johnson and Billy Forbes, the OKC defense will have its hands full with an attack that knows how to get in behind and exploit opposing defenses.
Phoenix Rising’s most recent outing against LA Galaxy II saw them overturn a 3-1 halftime deficit to go on and win 4-3, so they will be brimming with confidence ahead of the matchup on Wednesday.
OKC will also feel they can get a result with the way they performed in week eight. The Greens took it to a quality, full strength Swope Park Rangers team and should have left with a win.
Assistant Coach Danny Stone had this to say about OKC’s last outing: “If we perform like that moving forward, I have no doubt that we’ll win a lot of games between now and the end of the season.”
Phoenix started its last match against Los Dos in a 4-2-3-1 formation: Woszczynski; Dubose, Farrell, Da Fonte, Vasquez; Ricci, Fernandez; Riggi, Asante, Johnson; Drogba. Assuming Drogba is not in the squad, PHX could easily insert Musa, Awako or Cortez into the lineup. Predicting a formation is difficult, as Rising FC have changed it up several times this season between a 4-4-2, 4-3-3, 4-5-1 and the aforementioned 4-2-3-1. However Head Coach Patrice Carteron lines up his squad, one thing is for certain: their attack will be full of pace.
For Energy FC, since Coach Steve Cooke opted for a 4-4-2 formation last week, and the quality of play was drastically improved, most fans will be hoping that he doesn’t change much, if anything. There could be a change in the lineup, or at least the matchday squad, as Christian Volesky was just signed from Saint Louis FC.
Volesky, the 32nd overall pick by the Portland Timbers in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, had 9 goals in 37 appearances for STL, his last one coming in Saint Louis FC’s 1-0 win over OKC on April 21. In 2015, he led the Rochester Rhinos with eight goals on the way to lifting the 2015 USL Cup. Volesky, a proven goal scorer in the USL, can play up top as a lone center forward or in a strike partnership. Energy supporters will hope that a reunion with former STL teammate Jose Angulo will lead to more goals for the Greens.
Wednesday’s match at Taft Stadium kicks off at 7:00pm CT, and for those unable to attend in person, it will be available to watch on ESPN+.