Who: Toronto FC II at Phoenix Rising FC
When: Saturday March 25, 2017: 10:30 PM ET
Where: Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex
TFC II open their 2017 campaign this weekend when they travel to Arizona to battle it out with Phoenix Rising FC.
This will be the first-ever meeting between the two clubs. Phoenix Rising (previously Arizona United) was founded in in 2014. Last season the side struggled to a 13th place finish in the West. Former Canadian international Frank Yallop coaches Phoenix Rising FC.
Along with a re-brand of the club’s name and look, the team will be opening the brand new Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex on Saturday. The team has also signed a couple of marquee players in Omar Bravo and Shaun Wright-Phillips to lead the new-look squad. There should be plenty of anticipation in Arizona ahead of kick-off on Saturday.
“They have signed some big players,” remarked second-year midfielder Brian James, “We have to go in and take it as a regular game and try and do our best to get the win.”
When asked what his team needs to do to get a result in the opener head coach Jason Bent said, “we have to go in with a good mentality. We have to respect all but fear nobody. They have a deep team. They have brought in some pretty high-class names.”
“We have to stick with what we are doing in training,” added new signee Lars Eckenrode, “We’ve been working on playing out of the back and pressuring from the front.”
TFC II went 2-1-0 in preseason action this year. The team defeated both Guelph University and Ottawa Fury FC, before falling to the Rochester Rhinos 3-1 last weekend.
“The boys are feeling pretty good,” added Bent, “Preseason was challenging for sure but we have been training hard. We are looking forward to Phoenix. “
TFC II could be without some key squad members for Saturday’s opener. A number of players were with Toronto FC III participating in the Viareggio Tournament and may not be available for the trip to Arizona.
Mitch Taintor will be unavailable for selection on Saturday. The defender is serving a suspension that he picked up last season for an altercation with FC Montreal.
Players to Watch:
Shaun Wright-Phillips: The older half-brother of New York Red Bulls star Bradley Wright-Phillips, joins Phoenix Rising following a stint with NYRB. The former English international appeared in 19 games for The Metros, scoring once. His lone goal was a vicious strike against Toronto FC at BMO Field in 2015. SWP made stops at Manchester City, Chelsea, and Queens Park Rangers before moving stateside.
Omar Bravo: The 37-year-old striker joins Phoenix Rising after a season with the Carolina RailHawks in the NASL. The well-traveled veteran scored four goals in 14 matches. The native of Los Mochis made 65 appearances for the Mexican National team over his career. He was a member of the 2006 World Cup team and scored a brace in the group stage against Iran. Bravo made over 300 appearances for Liga MX side Chivas between 2001-2016.