CHANDLER – Phoenix Rising FC is in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2016 after a 2-0 loss to Oakland on Saturday, which left Phoenix in 12th place in the Western Conference with only six games remaining.
For a club accustomed to perennial success, the Rising’s 2022 season has been frustrating for many fans.
“Of course I’m disappointed,” season-ticket holder Brian Medendorp said. “We’re used to at least making the playoffs. If we were anywhere else in the world, we’d be facing relegation right now.”
Although the league table looks daunting for the Rising, the team remains mathematically alive for a playoff spot, sitting 5 points behind seventh place Las Vegas Lights FC.
The San Diego Loyal serve as the next challenge to punching a postseason ticket this Saturday on the road.
After the loss to Oakland, the team’s second straight loss, Rising assistant coach Danny Stone said the team will not shy away from making a late playoff push.
“It’s going to be a task, but it’s a task that every one of us has to approach positively,” Stone said. “Funny things happen in this game sometimes and until it’s not possible, we will approach next week as another must-win game.”
Stone isn’t alone in his belief that there’s still a chance for the team to reach the postseason. Rising fan Kieran Thompson is holding out hope that his team can get on a run and beat the odds.
“I’m a super-optimistic person,” Thompson said. “Mathematically, there’s still a chance. I believe in the team, and it’s still possible they could catch fire. We’ve seen it in the past.”
The Rising’s flame is barely flickering after the loss to Oakland, which was Phoenix’s lone home game in September.
However, the club might benefit from a congested bottom half of the Western Conference. Only 8 points separate Rising and sixth-placed El Paso, with the Rising having played two fewer games. From sixth place to 12th in the Western Conference, every team still has a shot at playoffs if things fall the right way for them.
However, the Rising likely need to win out over their final six games to leapfrog enough teams to move into a playoff position.