Jan 23, 2023 - Sports

Soccer players compete for spots in preseason camp at Phoenix Rising tryouts

A soccer player prepares to shoot the ball at the goal.

Joshua Onuoha (89) tries out for Phoenix Rising on Sunday. Photo: Jeremy Duda/Axios

More than 100 people tried out over the weekend for a chance to join Phoenix Rising for preseason camp and even a shot at making the team's final roster.

What happened: Phoenix's pro soccer team held tryouts on Friday and Saturday at its youth training field in Tempe.

  • The top 20 or so players from the first two days made the cut to play a full game against its academy team on Sunday at the Phoenix Rising FC Soccer Complex at Wild Horse Pass.
  • Coaches will evaluate the players and decide over the next few days who will be invited to the Rising's preseason camp, which begins on Jan. 29.
  • "We're definitely going to have some guys getting an invitation for preseason," head coach Juan Guerra told Axios Phoenix. "After that, it's up to them to make sure they can earn a spot."

Zoom in: Many of the players were locals who wanted a chance to play for their hometown team.

  • Ernesto Osornio, a 20-year-old Pima Community College student and graduate of Glendale's Ironwood High School, made it to Sunday's exhibition game.
  • Alex Vedamanikam, of Casa Grande, has played professionally in Germany, Spain and California, and is hoping for a chance to make the team's regular-season roster.
  • "I love Arizona. I love Phoenix. And Phoenix Rising has a great program. I'd love to be playing here," Vedamanikam told Axios Phoenix after Sunday's game.

Zoom out: Others came from across the country for the tryouts.

  • Isaac Ngobu, of Baltimore, graduated from University of Maryland in December. He played on the college's team, which won the 2022 Big Ten Conference championship.
  • "I'm just trying to be a professional soccer player. I feel like I can. I know I could. I just need the opportunity, really," the 21-year-old Ngobu told Axios Phoenix after Friday's tryouts.
  • James Urbany, a 34-year-old Albuquerque, New Mexico, resident, has played semipro and recreationally and came to Arizona for a chance to make the Rising's roster.

What they're saying: "At the end of the day, we're an organization, we're a club that wants to expand as much as we can into the community. We want to provide and also serve and be a platform for young talent and young adults and youth players in our community. And this gives us that opportunity," Guerra said.

  • He added that he wants public tryouts, which the Rising have held a few times in the past, to become an annual exercise.

1 big inspiration: If someone from tryouts makes the final roster, they won't be the first. Zac Lubin followed this path and was the Rising's starting goalkeeper for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

  • In 56 matches, Lubin had 22 shutouts and 149 saves, according to the team.

What's next: The Rising open their regular season on March 11 with a road game against the Charleston Battery in South Carolina.

  • Axios Phoenix will keep you posted on whether anyone from this weekend's tryouts makes the roster.

Of note: The Rising are building a new stadium at the former Greyhound Park racetrack at 38th and Washington streets, which is expected to be open in time for the start of the 2023 regular season.

avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Phoenix.

More Phoenix stories