Short-handed Phoenix FC plays host to Dayton
Phoenix FC looks to make its move in the USL Pro standings by gaining three points in an important match against Dayton Dutch Lions FC on Friday at Sun Devil Soccer Stadium.
The Wolves are coming off a draw with Real Salt Lake's reserve team at home on June 15. They need wins to get back into contention for one of eight postseason berths in the league. Phoenix FC (2-9-4) has seven matches remaining at home, including this Friday's tilt. Only four more are on the road.
Top goal scorer Donny Toia, who played a full match last week on a sore lower right leg and pronounced afterward that he was fine, leads the Wolves in scoring with three goals on the season. Diego Faria, Netinho, Aaron King and Scott Morrison have two each in league play. No one on the club has played more minutes this season than Morrison, who has been on the pitch for 1,350. That total is also tops in all of USL Pro.
In its last match, Phoenix FC played to a 0-0 draw with a Real Salt Lake reserve team that featured some players with a high degree of Major League Soccer experience. The Wolves had the better of play on offense, and their defense came together to limit RSL's chances. The two teams also had a scoreless draw in their first meeting in Utah earlier this season.
Phoenix FC will again be without the full services of Faria, who is one of the team's top offensive threats. Hampered by shin splints, Faria played just 20 minutes as a substitute last week and will not be in the lineup against the Dutch Lions this week as he continues to recover.
Dayton is 5-2-3 and has played the fewest games of any team in the league, five fewer than Phoenix FC. The Dutch Lions' record plus games in hand puts them in strong position over the final two months of the regular season to claim a playoff spot.
Forward Gibson Bardsley leads the club in goals with five, and midfielder Joel DeLass is second with four. A total of 11 players have been credited with an assist this season, and goalkeeper Matthew Williams is allowing an average of 1.7 goals per game.