This weekend was rough. Like ‘bad joke without a hint of cheesy charm’ rough. This weekend just sucked.
Phoenix had three winnable games. Phoenix walked away without a single result. Zero points. Nothing. Do Not Pass Go. Do Not Collect $200.
Too many cards. Too many defensive breakdowns. Too little experience and leadership to close out a game. Injuries. Being on the road. A very quick turnaround between games. I’ve heard a lot of excuses. And not a single one of them means a thing.
Phoenix had a lot of battling to do before this weekend. They were clutching to the 8th playoff spot in USLPRO and just about every other team had multiple games in hand against PFC. The Wolves had to get their ish together very quickly if they wanted to maintain a steady hope for the postseason. They needed to make up some ground this weekend.
They didn’t. They lost to Pittsburgh 2-1, and then lost to Dayton 4-3. The latter of those games saw them go down 4-1 at one point.
I’d give analysis on those games but I really don’t know what to say. They played awful in Dayton. They had some fight late but you’ll lose 99.99% of games you go down 4-1 in. Fight doesn’t even matter when you’ve leaked in that many goals. The backline has been an issue for this team all season. They’ve been a joke, and they’ve almost been funny. The Dutch Lions punished them for it. This was coming off of the heels of a loss at Highmark Stadium, against a team that had yet to win a game this season. When looking at the standings, if you’re a bubble team, you should beat the teams you’re above in the standings. That’s the only way to go from a bubble team to a team that’s in the playoffs. If you fail to win those games, the bubble pops, and you’re out of the conversation.
This sounds defeatist, sure. But this is what happens when you feel defeated. I guess you can say it’s only 9 games into the season, but it’s a 26 game season: we’re almost halfway home and we’re on the outside looking in. And every team above us has GAMES in hand. Not just a game or two. Games. It’s hard to be optimistic when the playoff teams are already separating from the pack 6 or 7 games into the season. Couple it with the penchant for injuries PFC has, off the field distractions, and a young and inexperienced core and coaching staff, and the road to the playoffs just got longer. I wrote an article last week about how Sun Devil Soccer Stadium would have to become a fortress if this team were to be successful, and given there play in recent weeks, I wouldn’t feel wrong in predicting that Phoenix will need every possible point at home to make the playoffs.
I don’t wanna say the season is done. But it’s pretty close.
The most devastating loss this weekend comes from the USOpen cup however. Phoenix FC had it’s first game in franchise history against FC Tucson, in what will hopefully be an exciting innerstate rivalry. Phoenix lost this game 2-1, giving up two goals in the last 7 minutes of the game. Sure this happens. But the caveat here is that FC Tucson is an amateur team. A pro team had a lead against an amateur squad late, and couldn’t close the game out. They couldn’t even see it through to extra time. To the traveling members of La Furia Roja, this was easily the most devastating loss so far, and unless Phoenix is playing the last game of the season for a playoff spots and loses, this will probably remain as such. This was a game Phoenix should’ve won. But they didn’t.
And if you can’t win the games you should win, how can you be expected to win the games you shouldn’t? Where PFC is in the standings right now, they’ll have to win a lot of those to get back into the playoff picture. It’s hard to see that happening. The future looks bleak.
Luckily for Phoenix, they have the weekend off. Perhaps this is a blessing for the fans as well. We’re down. Not out, but definitely down. Reality is kicking in a big way and we don’t really like it. Maybe a week will give us a chance to cool off, and approach the upcoming home fixture against Charlotte with some optimism. And the Wolves will have time to put themselves into an adult time out and really do some soul searching and figure themselves out. They need to be asking themselves ‘are we a team that wins games?’ or ‘are we a team that can’t close out against inferior opponents?’
No one would willingly answer the latter on that one. Phoenix FC has a lot of work to do ahead of them to prove they’re not that team, though.