Saturday night was mayhem. Because multiple items were thrown on the field, Phoenix Rising’s match with Los Angeles Galaxy II was called before the final whistle blew. You probably remember where you were as events unfolded late into the night at Casino Arizona Field – hopefully you were in bed – but what was going on in the press box as Saturday night faded into Sunday morning? Here is the behind the scenes recap you never knew you wanted.
This article is not intended to make light of what happened during Saturday’s match. Throwing items on the field is unacceptable and throwing them at players is even worse. This story is simply supposed to give readers an insight into what happens inside the press box when chaos ensues.
7:36 PM: The match kicks off.
7:45 PM: Solomon Asante scores a penalty kick. 1-0, Phoenix Rising.
7:51 PM: Junior Flemmings scores a well-placed right-footed goal. 2-0, Phoenix Rising.
8:21 PM: Flemmings scores his second goal of the evening. 3-0, Phoenix Rising.
8:23 PM: Halftime.
9:10 PM: Los Angeles Galaxy II score. 3-1, Phoenix Rising.
9:12 PM: Los Angeles Galaxy II goalkeeper Eric Lopez is hit in the face by a ball shot from Solomon Asante. Lopez was not hurt as a result of any item being thrown on the field.
9:12 PM: Ben Spencer scores. 4-1, Phoenix Rising.
9:14 PM: The ESPN+ broadcast shows a team staff member retrieving a beer can from the south portion of Casino Arizona Field.
9:17 PM: Play is suspended for five minutes by the referee.
9:17 PM: As players exit the field for the five minute break, an item thrown by a fan sitting in the east side of the stadium hits Los Angeles Galaxy II player Augustine Williams.
9:19 PM: All players exit the field. “All” includes Williams, who walked off under his own power.
9:22 PM: Owain Evans and I sprint across the concourse to the supporters’ section to investigate what happened eight minutes prior.
9:23 PM: “This is going to be the worst Rising Tactics Recap ever,” someone tells me as I run through the concourse. That person may just be correct.
9:23 PM: Due to player safety, the referee calls the match.
9:29 PM: Media members reconvene in the press box to compare notes on the situation. So far, we’ve got nothing.
9:32 PM: According to a text message received by team staff member Olivia Kuby, the media is told to “keep standing it in the press box.” The bold ones of us decide to sit down anyway.
9:34 PM: Christopher Howley, Owain Evans, Jake Anderson, and myself are the media members that remain inside the press box. Olivia is given the unenviable task of staying with us.
9:36 PM: The club announces that they will not be offering the standard post-match media availability. Media members are asked to remain in the press box until information is released.
9:47 PM: A league source informs me that General Manger Bobby Dulle is on the phone with the league office. At this point, we have no idea if the result of the match will stand or not. The win streak could be over because of these odd extenuating circumstances.
10:19 PM: Aaron Blau reports that the individual who threw the item that hit Williams was sent home in a Lyft.
10:29 PM: With limited food and water remaining, Owain suggests turning the press box into a “Survival” -esque reality show.
10:34 PM: “Media still hanging around?” – head of media relations José Bosch in a text to Olivia. And in fact, they were.
10:40 PM: Jake Anderson is the first of us to emerge from the press box. His ticket out? Having to “go to the bathroom“.
10:43 PM: Jake re-enters the press box. He’s in it for the long haul, just like the rest of us.
10:50 PM: The press box is officially out of food. The water supplies are also getting low.
10:53 PM: Sam Doerr informs the media that the league will be releasing a statement in 10-15 minutes.
11:09 PM: 15 minutes has come and gone. The league has not released a statement.
11:11 PM: Owain starts hallucinating, claiming that he “hears music playing.” There was no music playing.
11:30 PM: The league offices still have not released an official statement. It’s 2:30 AM at USL headquarters in Tampa Bay, Florida. We want to go to bed. They want to go to bed.
11:40 PM: Owain goes out to “get some air“.
11:57 PM: It’s almost midnight. Jake and Christopher are waiting on a statement from the league so that they can file their stories and go home. Owain and I are still here because we’ve been here too long to not be here anymore.
12:00 AM: Jake’s editor has gone home. It is also Sunday now.
12:07 AM: While the league has still not issued a statement, Phoenix Rising releases one of their own. Part of that statement reads: “Both fans [who threw items on to the field] were identified and have been banned from the stadium.” The statement also announced that the 4-1 victory over Los Dos will stand.
12:13 AM: Owain leaves.
12:19 AM: Still nothing from the league. It’s been 3 hours since the game was called.
12:25 AM: USL has finally issued a statement. It reads: “The United Soccer League ruled on Saturday the USL Championship contest between Phoenix Rising FC and the LA Galaxy II that was abandoned in the 84th minute at Casino Arizona Field following the removal of the teams from the field by the match officials for the safety of the players would stand as a 4-1 victory for Rising FC. Under league rules, should a contest be abandoned after the 70th minute with one side holding a three-goal advantage, the result may be declared official.”
12:28 AM: I leave.