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A string of poor results have left Phoenix Rising coach Rick Schantz taking fire from supporters.
He’s looking for an improved reaction from his players as his team travels east to Loudoun (Virginia) for a game on Saturday.
“It’s time to look in the mirror,” Schantz said. “It’s time to understand and assess what’s going on right now and what changes have to be made. I met with the staff. I met with a lot of players individually [on Monday and Tuesday] to explain the changes that I’ll be making for this week and to simplify things a little bit.”
The club has dropped three home matches in a row for the first time since 2016. Back then, Rising was known as Arizona United and Schantz was still coaching in Tucson.
“It’s time for us to play the guys that we trust, the guys that love the club, the guys that care about the fans and the badge and that have that kind of integrity and work ethic,” Schantz said. “It doesn’t matter how much money you’re making. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past. It’s only about what you’re going to do today.”
Schantz promised a host of changes to the squad, despite previously emphasizing work on execution over tactical tweaks. While it’s unclear if Rising will differ from its usual 4-3-3, at least one notable omission looks to be on the cards. Luis Manuel Seijas was not present in a team photograph posted from Virginia on Thursday.
“I think part of it is I was with the new players and some of the lack of chemistry, I was trying to force a square peg in a round hole,” Schantz said. “Rather than constantly beat my head against a wall and try to get success, it was time for me to reevaluate the players and the talent that we have and that I’m getting the best out of each and every one of them and putting them in positions to succeed. It took a little time to recognize that guys couldn’t do the things that I was asking, and now we will simplify it and put them in positions to succeed.”
After a sluggish start for Rising, Schantz is facing increased pressure to turn the results around. In a rare sight, the team enters the weekend outside the playoff places after LA leapfrogged Phoenix on Wednesday. After Rising’s loss to El Paso, Schantz faced calls for his job on social media.
“It’s hard for me to see,” Schantz said. “It’s hard for me to read at times. I am a human being, but all I know is that they care about the club, and they care a lot. I can assure the fans that nobody cares about this club being more successful than I do. I’ve bled Phoenix Rising since I came here, and it’s been a great opportunity for me and I can assure everyone that I will go down fighting. You don’t have to worry about that. There’s no give up in me.”
That same fight can be seen among many of Rising’s senior players, Schantz said. In a meeting after the Legion loss, Ben Lundt addressed his teammates.
“He was very honest, very blunt and sometimes that’s hard in group settings, but they all call each other out a little bit,” Schantz said. “It may not be always the best way to handle things, but they wanted accountability from one another. They wanted it from the staff. And now it’s just time to, as they say, put up or shut up, and they’ve responded well in training.”
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