USL Week 27: Playoff noose tightens, but for whom is the bell tolling?

GLENDALE, AZ - JULY 20: Romario Williams
GLENDALE, AZ - JULY 20: Romario Williams /
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Western Conference: Phoenix gets hotter as fall approaches

Phoenix Rising has now gone 9 straight matches without a defeat. Rising are currently sitting 5th on the western conference table with 43 points. Real Monarchs are loping along in first with 56. Phoenix, however, is one of the few teams in the entire USL with more than 5 matches remaining, including playing their last 3 at home. Surp-Rising-ly, Phoenix are piling up these numbers while much of their roster full of glitterati takes it easy. It is not their big names that are carrying them to these heights. Rising defeated Seattle Sounders 2 earlier this week, on the road, 1-0. The lone goal by Alessandro Riggi was very stylish (see the last slide): one goal kick, one flick-on, one volley and one goal. Otherwise, the win was not at all a pretty one. Yet it was indeed another win and it left Phoenix needing just 9 points to guarantee themselves a playoff spot.

One of those teams feeling a lot less assurance about being in the mix one month from now is…