On a near-perfect spring evening host Phoenix Rising FC took down Greenville Triumph SC in Round 2 of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. The home side used a first half goal from Carlos Harvey to cling to a 1-0 win.
For Phoenix, it was the second year in a row that they kicked off the tournament with a 1-0 win and improved their home unbeaten streak in the competition to four games.
Despite being pleased with advancing to Round 3 of the US Open Cup, Phoenix coach Juan Guerra said his team will need to do more.
“If we are going to have 70% possession and connect 600 passes, we need to have the ability to threaten the goal a bit more,” he said. “We have to improve.”
When asked about playing a team of ‘mostly second-string players,’ said, “We don’t have a clear starting eleven. We are still developing, still transforming, still learning.”
Both teams have sputtered out of the gates in their respective seasons. Phoenix with two draws and a loss in the Championship and Greenville had a loss in their opener in League One. Both teams were looking to find something to build on.
Sometimes all you need is a goal and a great save to earn the W.
— Phoenix Rising FC (@PHXRisingFC) April 6, 2023
The first half hour was played almost exclusively in front of the Greenville goal and the Phoenix goal came from a period of strong forward pressure.
Edwin Munjoma received a short pass from Harvey to the outside of the penalty area. As Harvey continued his run to the goal mouth, Munjoma crossed the ball to Baboucarr Njie on the other side of the area. Njie hit a half-volley toward the back post where Harvey managed a flick header to find the net and the 1-0 lead.
The first half was mainly one-way traffic with Phoenix having 71% of the possession. Greenville’s first serious attempt would not come until the 32nd when Jacob Labovitz picked up a loose ball from Njie and sent a shot from 23 yards out that went just wide to the far post.
Emil Cuello, Jackson Conway, and Erickson Gallardo all had opportunities to extend the lead for Phoenix, but none of them could find the twine in either half.
Greenville did manage to up the pressure a bit in the second half. Many great build-ups only to have the final ball be the weak link in attack. Both goalkeepers also played very well on the night. The only mistake was Jared Mazzola getting caught watching Njie’s ball across, which prevented him from getting back across to stop Harvey on the goal.
Greenville’s best chance came in the first minute of stoppage time when Allen Gavilanes sent a simple square ball to a teammate who blasted a shot at the near upper 90. Patrick Rakovsky managed to tip the laser beam shot onto the crossbar and over to prevent the equalizer. The resulting corner pinballed around dangerously before being finally cleared.