After a statement victory in Real Monarchs first-ever playoff win, the club now travels to Phoenix to face Rising FC in the USL Championship Semifinals on Friday, November 1 (8:30p MT ESPN+). The match will be the third between the two sides in 2019 with each team trading wins away from home on the year.
Real Monarchs and Phoenix Rising FC have faced one another 14 times since 2015 with all matches coming in the regular season. The Monarchs lead the all-time series with a 7-6-1 (22 points) record but the teams have each scored 20 goals on one another. In 2019, Rising FC claimed a 4-2 victory over the Monarchs at Zions Bank Stadium in May before the Utah side handed the regular season champions its first home loss of the 2019 season nearly three weeks ago with a dramatic 2-1 victory. Friday’s match will be the first between the two sides in the postseason.
The 2019 title winners move into Friday’s matchup after a competitive quarterfinal bout against 2019 expansion side Austin Bold FC on Saturday. The two sides fought in a scoreless standoff that saw the two trade shots in penalty kicks after 120 minutes. Phoenix saw the better from the spot, earning the win 8-7 after the shootout.
Rising FC had a record-breaking season in 2019, becoming the first North American team to earn 20 consecutive wins, earning three points in every match from May 10 to September 14 before falling 2-1 against Fresno FC.
The Rising FC attack is led by Solomon Asante, who earned the 2019 Golden Boot and Assist Winner with 22 goals and 17 assists across 33 appearances. Junior Flemmings and Adam Jahn back up Asante on the attacking front with Flemmings earning 15 goals and 7 assists while Jahn earned 17 goals and 5 assists through the regular season.
In goal, Zac Lubin has been an indomitable force, helping to lead his team in having the most secure goal in the Western Conference. Lubin has made 84 saves to record a league-best 14 clean sheets throughout 2019, conceding just 25 goals in his 30 appearances. The Rising FC goal is reinforced by its defensive backline highlighted by its rightback Joseph Farrell and A.J. Cochran in the center-back position.
With everything on the line, fireworks are sure to fly when the two sides meet on Friday with the winner advancing to the Western Conference Final. Should Real Monarchs win on Friday, it will host the winner of Sacramento Republic FC and El Paso Locomotive FC at Zions Bank Stadium at it looks to lay claim to the Western Conference title.