Phoenix, Ariz. (Saturday, April 22) – The Miami Football Club fell to Western Conference foe Phoenix Rising 2-1 on Saturday night in Arizona despite a strong start.
Ten of the eleven players who started in the U.S. Open Cup third-round match against Inter Miami CF appeared in the starting XI against Phoenix. Manager Anthony Pulis’ only modification came at the No. 9 position, with Jamaica’s Romeo Parkes replacing striker Kyle Murphy.
First half breakdown
Miami FC kicked off the action at Phoenix Rising Stadium at Wild Horse Pass, creating a close chance in the tenth minute of the match. Right-winger Joshua Pérez served Parkes a perfectly weighted through ball, and he unleashed a low-driven shot. The attempt at goal was blocked by German goalkeeper Ben Lundt.
Midfielder Bolu Akinyode followed up with a long-range effort two minutes later, but Lundt the ball with ease.
Red flares went off behind Miami’s goal in the 22nd minute after Phoenix Rising forward Claudio Repetto headed the ball into the back of the net in a set-piece. However, the sideline referee deemed the play offsides, keeping the score at 0-0.
The Orange and Blue opened their account in the 27th minute, with Pérez scoring his second goal of the season. Left-winger Pierre da Silva served a deep cross toward the second post, and Pérez scored off a diving header.
Phoenix Center-back Kevon Lambert scored an equalizer just before the halftime whistle. Lambert cleaned up a rebound produced from a goalkeeper Connor Sparrow save. The goal ended Miami’s 247-minute shutout streak in USL Championship play.
Miami FC led in possession at the half, with 53 percent. Both sides had four shots, with Miami landing three on target and Phoenix two. The home side’s two shots on target happened in the 45th minute, resulting in its equalizing goal. In terms of cards, a player from each team received yellow cards – Devon “Speedy” Williams (MIA), Luis Seijas (PHX).
Second half breakdown
Miami FC crept up on Phoenix Rising again early in the second half as it did in the first. Pérez and da Silva combined for a chance that deflected off a defender for a corner in the 48th minute. A couple of minutes later, attacking midfielder Florian Valot stretched to hit a ball at the top of the six-yard box, but the 26-year-old goalkeeper denied the Frenchman.
Sparrow made three saves in a span of ten minutes to keep the home side from taking the lead. The first one arrived in the 57th minute, denying a powerful header from Phoenix right-winger Joey Callistri by getting low to the left corner of his goal. The second block was made in the 64th minute, stopping a high octane shot that lacked accuracy. And the third was a soft shot that Sparrow collected with ease.
Winger Lamar Walker was introduced to the game in the 76th minute for Pérez. Despite being a forward, Walker made an essential on-the-line clearance just one minute after stepping on the pitch. The 21-year-old cleared a headed attempt from Lambert that was directed toward the goal.
Despite coping well with Phoenix’s second-half attacking threat, Miami FC conceded late to a long-distance effort from Venezuelan midfielder Luis Seijas. The final score was 2-1 in favor of Phoenix Rising.
Up next for the Miami FC
Miami FC will play two more games on the road before returning to FIU Stadium. The Orange and Blue visit Memphis 901 on Saturday, April 30, and Birmingham Legion on Wednesday, May 4.
MFC’s next home match is against San Antonio on Saturday, May 14. You can buy tickets ahead of time here.