Match Report – Phoenix FC v. Charlotte Eagles

Phoenix FC Charlotte Eagles

Match Report – Phoenix FC v. Charlotte Eagles

By Josh Rubin

Tempe, Ariz. – Phoenix FC’s game against the Charlotte Eagles served as a night of returns, as Andrew Weber and Devon Grousis came back into the lineup, and Darren Mackie made his first start of the season following an extended absence due to injury. Phoenix FC also made returns in the score line, coming back from being a goal down twice to grab a point in a 2 – 2 draw.

Phoenix FC looked to use their marquee striker from the opening whistle, as Aaron King raced forward with the ball off the kickoff and put it through to Mackie who missed wide to the right of goal.

Charlotte were the first to get on the board, though, as forward Christian Ramirez broke through the Phoenix defense in the fifth minute and shot off the left post and in for the goal from inside the Wolves 18 yard box.

Five minutes later, Phoenix midfielder Diego Faria fired at goal from 25 yards out and just missed out on tying up the game at one goal each.

Charlotte midfielder Tommy Smith fouled Netinho from 30 yards out, setting up a Phoenix free kick eighteen minutes into the game. Phoenix’s Scott Morrison, playing on his 29th birthday, stepped up for the dead ball and curled it into the top right corner of goal to tie up the game.

Diego continued to show an eye for goal in the first half, finding himself inside the 6 yard box with the ball but firing off the near post and out of play, failing to challenge Eagles Goalkeeper Eric Reed.

The Phoenix FC defense continued to show holes, as an unchallenged Drew Yates on the left wing crossed into Sergio Villasenor for the easy put away right in front of goal and Charlotte’s second lead of the night.

Minutes later, however, Phoenix FC got right back into the game as Donny Toia put a cross into the box which found its way over the head of Reed and into the back of the net for the equalizer, in a goal that was oddly reminiscent of the game tying cross in Phoenix’s loss to FC Tucson last week in the US Open Cup.

Mackie showed considerable chemistry with strike partner Aaron King throughout the first half. A number of passing sequences between the two, both short and long, resulted in good chances for each of the strikers, but neither man was able to break the tie by halftime.

Charlotte appeared eager to take back the lead at the open of the second half, making two substitutions at the opening whistle and two more just fifteen minutes later, replacing their entire front line with Jorge Herrera, Juan Guzman, and Sam Asante.

Will Prado, another Charlotte substitute, nearly put the Eagles up for the third time of the game when he had a shot from right in front of goal, but he managed to shoot way wide, failing to challenge Phoenix keeper Andrew Weber.

With five minutes to go in the game, Donny Toia lobbed a ball into the Charlotte box for Peabo Doue, on for Aaron King, who nailed the ball just inches over the crossbar in the closest chance of the second half.

Minutes later, a Phoenix free kick from 40 yards away from goal gave Scott Morrison the chance to change the game again. He dropped it straight in to the feet of Darren Mackie, who was swarmed by the Charlotte defense before they cleared it away from danger.

Charlotte put the pressure on in the closing moments of the match, maintaining possession in Phoenix’s third of the field and trying to squeeze in a late winner, but Phoenix’s defense held tight in the end as the match finished in a 2-2 draw.

“If you’re scoring two goals at home you should be winning games,” said Phoenix Head Coach David Robertson on the team’s defense. “We just need to be a little bit more alert in certain situations.

The returning Darren Mackie agreed, “Same situation, losing stupid goals from our point of view.”

Mackie, on his chemistry with forward Aaron King, “We’ve hit it off straight away from the moment we both started playing together. It’s just obviously frustrating that I’ve been injured for so long. We’ve got a good partnership, so hopefully I can stay fit and we can both get more minutes together and we’ll do well.”

Scott Morrison had a positive night on and off the pitch, with his birthday being the icing on top of the cake that was his beautifully placed free kick goal. “It couldn’t have gone much better. I hit it really well and got it up over the wall and I knew that if I got it over the wall the goalie would be struggling to get there,” said Morrison.

On Morrison’s thoughts as he went to take the kick, “My boy wrote me a birthday card and he drew a picture of me scoring, so I was just picturing that.”

Phoenix FC head out on the road when they take on the Richmond Kickers in the first game of a four game road trip next Friday, May 31, at 4:30 p.m. The game will be streamed live online through USL LIVE.

Lineups

Phoenix

A. Weber

Devon, Hedrick, Renan, Toia

Netinho, Obodai (Schafer, 73’), Morrison

Diego (T. Ramos, 90’+)

King (Doue, 82’), Mackie

Unused Subs: Parkinson, Bento, J. Ramos, Holmes

Charlotte

Reed

Courtney, Gold, Newnam, Okiomah

Yates (Prado, 62’), Okai, Smith (Meza, 70’)

Ramirez (Herrera, 46’), Villasenor (Asante, 63’), Waul (Guzman, 46’)

Unused Subs: Jimenez, Francis

Scoring

Phoenix

18’ – Scott Morrison

38’ – Donny Toia (Scott Morrison)

Charlotte

5’ – Christian Ramirez

35’ – Sergio Villasenor (Drew Yates)

Discipline

Phoenix

79’ – Devon Grousis (Yellow)

Charlotte

None

Officials

Referee: Juan Colazo
Asst. Ref.: Paul Nothman
Asst. Ref.: Mike Ambrose
4th Official: Jorge Curiel

Attendance: 1,903

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