Rick Schantz Phoenix Rising prepares Tacoma Defiance

Rick Schantz could only rub his beard and exhale. After all, the Phoenix Rising FC coach knows that what his team did last Saturday night is unsustainable.

“It would be a miracle if someone could play like this for 90 minutes,” said Schantz of the energy Phoenix showed in the last 20 minutes of their 2-2 comeback tie with San Diego Loyal.

Harnessing some of that energy, however, was a focus of Schantz’s week as the promoted players want to recover from their first draw of the season on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. against Tacoma Defiance, the Seattle Sounders reserve team, home field of the Wild Horse Pass.

“The last 20 minutes were twice what we normally are,” said Schantz. “So I would never expect our team to play like this for 90 minutes. The boys just couldn’t do that. … The bigger question for me is how do we increase our intensity in the first 45 minutes? “

Phoenix’s comeback on Saturday was driven by a tactical change when Schantz switched to a colon with two holding midfielders to counter San Diego’s first-half dominance in midfield. The change came after the newcomer’s typical midfield trio was forced to make changes due to the lack of starters Kevon Lambert and Aodhan Quinn.

Lambert, who missed the game while serving for Jamaica in Japan, is missing one more game before returning to Phoenix on Sunday. Quinn was out of practice on Tuesday as he continues to recover from an Achilles tendon injury, although Schantz is hoping the midfielder will be ready to play on Saturday.

Phoenix Rising FC's Joey Calistri (left) celebrates the winning goal against SD Loyal at Wild Horse Pass Stadium on June 5, 2021.

Regardless of Phoenix staff, Schantz knows that an intense game against a young Tacoma team that brought eight teenagers into play in a 2-0 loss to Las Vegas Lights last weekend will be crucial.

“Tacoma, they have some really good attacking players and they are going to really challenge us,” said Schantz. “… Very, very good training habits. This is the mark of an amazing academy. “

But while these youth are a challenge to the insurrection, they also offer an opportunity.

“Here we have to use our experience, we have to use our size and strength and we have to dominate them physically,” said Schantz. “It was the same when Vegas was here. They are very young and we have to intimidate them. “

In this game, the newcomers had accelerated from the start and scored a goal in the second minute on the way to the 5-1 victory. Against San Diego, with two failed starters, this early intensity was missing, which led to a frenetic comeback in stoppage time.

And as happy as Phoenix has made Schantz with his determination, he hopes that he can save himself a few palpitations.

“It feels great that we came back after the 2-0 win,” said Schantz, “you have to win your home games.”

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