Nov 13, 2023 - Sports

Phoenix Rising FC wins first championship

Phoenix Rising lifts the USL Championship Cup. Photo: Eryn Nicholson with Phoenix Rising

The Phoenix Rising FC won their first United Soccer League Championship in franchise history on two dramatic comebacks — tying the game in the final minutes of regulation, then beating the Charleston Battery after falling behind on penalty kicks.

Driving the news: In a 1-1 game in Charleston, Phoenix won 3-2 on penalties Sunday night.

  • Things looked grim for the Rising after they missed their first two penalty kicks and the Battery hit their first two.
  • But Charleston missed its next two penalty kicks, allowing Phoenix to tie things up.
  • Manuel Arteaga hit the third and decisive penalty kick for the Rising, and Derek Dodson missed the Battery's final kick, hitting the left post, to seal the Rising's win

Zoom in: Phoenix was behind for most of the game.

  • Charleston took the lead on a goal by Nick Markanich in the 36th minute.
  • The Battery held the lead through the 90th minute, when Phoenix's John Stenberg headed in the ball on an assist by Mohamed Traore.

Catch up quick: The 6-seeded Rising were the underdogs throughout the playoffs, knocking off higher-seeded teams in each round.

  • They defeated the San Diego Loyal in the first round and Orange County SC in the second before defeating the Sacramento Republic — the top-ranked team in the USL's Western Conference — to earn a spot in the championship game.

The big picture: This was Phoenix's third berth in the USL Championship Final.

  • They won the west in 2018 and 2020, losing to Louisville City FC the first time around.
  • The 2020 championship game was canceled after several members of the Tampa Bay Rowdies tested positive for COVID-19.

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