Flemmings’ 15th fires leaders Phoenix to victory
PORTLAND, Oregon (CMC):
R eggae Boy Junior Flemmings struck his 15th goal of the United Soccer League season, while fellow countryman Kevon Lambert added his third, as Phoenix Rising FC recovered from their recent wobble with a 5-3 hammering of Portland Timbers at the weekend.
Playing at Providence Park in the Pacific Northwest, Lambert opened the scoring after four minutes and Flemmings netted on the other side of the break, adding to Ben Spencer's double and a late goal from Jose Aguinaga.
Giovanni Calixtro's first-half strike kept the hosts in the contest at the half but Brayan Hurtado's 73rd- minute finish and Austin Ledbetter's own goal was all that came their way in the second half.
For leaders Phoenix, the victory was their first in three games, after suffering defeat and then a draw following their record 20-game winning streak.
The defeat for Portland, meanwhile, was their fourth in five outings and it left them dangling below the play-off zone in the Western Conference on 38 points.
Rising took an early lead when Flemmings played through wing back Kyle Bjornethun, who whipped in a cross for Lambert to tap in at the far post.
Calixtro levelled in the 24th after Hurtado's left-footer had forced a save out of goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski but Spencer then scored the first of his double in the 35th minute, to put the visitors up 2-1 at the break.
Flemmings stretched that lead in the 54th minute after being released down the right by Aguinaga and produced a strong solo run to beat goalkeeper Jake Leeker with a firm drive to his right.
When Spencer added his second in the 70th minute, the result appeared straightforward but Hurtado's 73rd- minute strike and Ledbetter's own goal three minutes saw Portland pull back two quick goals to set up a nervous finish.
Rising held their nerve, however, and Aguinaga netted two minutes from the end to give his side added breathing space.
Rising are a whopping 19 points clear at the top of the standings on 75 point and have already qualified for the play-offs and secured home advantage.