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En boca cerrada, no entran moscas, or red cards, or goals

10-man Phoenix FC ends season with disappointing loss

Wheels fell off despite spectacular early goal by former Tucsonense Toia

Phoenix FC played one of their best half hours of soccer their fans have had the chance to see all year and were likely on their way to ending their season with a win over the Rochester Rhinos on Friday night. Countless small errors and one huge one allowed their opponents to get back into the game and Phoenix had to end their disappointing season with a 4 - 3 loss.

It took only three minutes of pressure on the Rhinos back line for Phoenix to break them, and the goal came from Canyon del Oro graduate Donny Toia. Phoenix didn't let up, keeping the ball for long stretches of the beginning of the match. Although Toia had the goal, Diego Faria made his presence known up top, earning looks at the goal and drawing fouls.

The celebration from both team and fans was short-lived. Goalkeeper Sheldon Parkinson, who was getting his first start after injury issues left him sidelined, went down for several minutes. After being attended to by team staff, Parkinson slowly walked off the field, but obviously in a great deal of pain and holding his lower back. Neal Kitson came on for him as Phoenix's first substitute.

Phoenix's dominance paid off again in the 21st minute when the Rhinos couldn't clear the ball and Travis Bowen took advantage. The crowd, although smaller since the the move to the Reach 11 Sports Complex, chanted "I believe that we will win," but they likely saw more than a win but a blowout.

A trope among soccer writers is that a 2 - 0 lead is deceptively dangerous: the safe lead that can instantly be cut to a nailbiting chance for the other side to tie it up. And that's just what happened as Rochester's Danny Earls, a defender, ventured far up field for a rocket from the far right side of the goal to beat Kitson. It was one of only two shots recorded for the Rhinos in the half.

The Rhinos started finding more holes in the Phoenix defense, but still had trouble generating chances. What brought them back into the game wasn't any offensive or tactical brilliance, but the mouth of a Wolves midfielder.

In the waning moments of the half, Phoenix's Thomas Ramos voiced his displeasure at referee Tyler Pleger over a call. Ramos's invective was of particular quality, and reportedly involved suppositions about Pleger's mother, and the Phoenix native earned a rare straight red for dissent.

Phoenix was forced to play the second half with 10 men, and Rochester didn't take look to use their advantage. Blake Brettschneider, a player on loan from the New England Revolution, evened the score in the 58th minute. Former Hibernian FC striker Tam McManus, a substitute who came on at the hour mark, gave his team the lead moments after coming on the field.

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Phoenix brought on two offensive-minded players, Arizonan David Paul and Scottsman Darren Mackie, in the hopes that fresh legs could even the match up despite the team being a man down.

The goal came not from them, and not until the last possible moments of the game. Former Glendale Community College Vaquero Joshua Bento beat the Rhino's keeper to give even up the score at 3 - 3. Phoenix might not win the game, but they at least they could end their season with a hard fought draw.

They let up on the restart and got burned once again by Scottsman McManus, who scored his team's fourth goal.

The whistle blew with another loss for Phoenix. The team ended it's season with five wins, fourteen losses and seven ties. The record leaves the USL Pro debutantes out of the sub-basement of the standings only because of the woeful Antigua Barracuda.

Trophy for Donny

A disappointing game ended a disappointing season, but one shining light for the team on Friday night and all season was Donny Toia. The former FC Tucson player led his team in goals with six, and also racked up two assists. For his efforts, La Furia Roja, Phoenix FC's supporters' group, presented Toia with a Player of the Year trophy after the match.

"I never saw this coming," said Toia, holding the small lucite sphere he'd been presented with. "I just work hard. I am one of those players that doesn't care about anything else just playing this sport. Getting this is definitely a great accomplishment. Those LFR guys, I appreciate what they've done for us as a team."

"It's the best feeling ever," he added.

Despite his growth as a player in 2013, he still gives credit to his time in Tucson.

"I learned everything from Jonathan Pearlman, my old club coach," he said of the man he played for at both FC Tucson and as a youth player. "Having him around for a lot of stuff really helped out. He's done a lot for me. He's gotten me where I am now."

What's most impressive about Toia's numbers is that he started the season as a defender (the league's website still lists him as such). As the season wore on, however, coach David Robertson moved Toia into the more offensive role that fans that saw him play for FC Tucson were more familiar with.

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"I just go out and play. Where ever coach wants me to play, I'll play," he said. "It just comes down to working hard. If you work hard, it will pay off."

It could be the last time Toia wears the red and white of Phoenix. There is talk of interest from MLS clubs, including Philadelphia Union.

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Phoenix FC v Rochester Rhinos

Reach 11 Sports Park, Phoenix

  • Scoring summary
  • PFC: Donny Toia (3')
  • PFC: Travis Bowen (21')
  • ROC: Daniel Earls (32')
  • ROC: Blake Brettschneider (58')
  • ROC: Tam McManus (63')
  • PHX: Joshua Bento (90+')
  • ROC: McManus (90+')
  • Misconduct summary
  • ROC: Brandon Miller (caution, 16')
  • ROC: Tyler Polak (caution, 60')
  • PFC: Donny Toia (caution, 80')
  • Phoenix FC: Sheldon Parkinson (Neal Kitson 10') – Isaiah Schafer (Reid Schmitt 80'), Devon Grousis, Cyprian Hedrick, Scott Morrison – Anthony Obodai, Netinho (Joshua Bento 82'), Donny Toia, Thomas Ramos – Diego Faria (David Paul 64'), Travis Bowen (Darren Mackie 64')
  • Rochester Rhinos: Brandon Miller – Danny Earls, George Kyriazis, Tyler Bellamy (Lucas Fernandez 76') – Bilal Duckett, Rudolph Rosenlund, Michael Tanke (J C Banks 54'), Tyler Polak, Rudolph Mayard (Michael Reidy 69') – Blake Brettschneider (Thomas "Tam" McManus 59'), Matt Horth (Andrew Hoxlie 59')

United Soccer Leagues - USL Pro

Standings

PtsGPGFGA
Richmond Kickers54255023
Orlando City   51255326
Charleston Battery45264829
Harrisburg City Islanders44255436
Charlotte Eagles41254438
Los Angeles Blues   37255036
Pittsburgh Riverhounds37253532
Dayton Dutch Lions34254045
Wilmington Hammerheads33253138
VSI Tampa Bay FC32263139
Rochester Rhinos28252437
Phoenix FC Wolves   22262841
Antigua Barracuda FC   251087

Note: Wilmington had a point deducted for using an ineligible player in a game against Pittsburgh on July 21.