Soccer players compete for spots in preseason camp at Phoenix Rising tryouts

Joshua Onuoha (89) tries out for Phoenix Rising on Sunday. Photo: Jeremy Duda/Axios

More than 100 people tried out over the weekend for a chance to join Phoenix Rising for preseason camp and even a shot at making the team’s final roster.

What happened: Phoenix’s pro soccer team held tryouts on Friday and Saturday at its youth training field in Tempe.

  • The top 20 or so players from the first two days made the cut to play a full game against its academy team on Sunday at the Phoenix Rising FC Soccer Complex at Wild Horse Pass.
  • Coaches will evaluate the players and decide over the next few days who will be invited to the Rising’s preseason camp, which begins on Jan. 29.
  • “We’re definitely going to have some guys getting an invitation for preseason,” head coach Juan Guerra told Axios Phoenix. “After that, it’s up to them to make sure they can earn a spot.”

Zoom in: Many of the players were locals who wanted a chance to play for their hometown team.

  • Ernesto Osornio, a 20-year-old Pima Community College student and graduate of Glendale’s Ironwood High School, made it to Sunday’s exhibition game.
  • Alex Vedamanikam, of Casa Grande, has played professionally in Germany, Spain and California, and is hoping for a chance to make the team’s regular-season roster.
  • “I love Arizona. I love Phoenix. And Phoenix Rising has a great program. I’d love to be playing here,” Vedamanikam told Axios Phoenix after Sunday’s game.

Zoom out: Others came from across the country for the tryouts.

  • Isaac Ngobu, of Baltimore, graduated from the University of Maryland in December. They played on the college’s team, which won the 2022 Big Ten Conference championship.
  • “I’m just trying to be a professional soccer player. I feel like I can. I know I could. I just need the opportunity, really,” the 21-year-old Ngobu told Axios Phoenix after Friday’s tryouts.
  • James Urbany, a 34-year-old Albuquerque, New Mexico, resident, has played semipro and recreationally and came to Arizona for a chance to make the Rising’s roster.

What they’re saying: “At the end of the day, we’re an organization, we’re a club that wants to expand as much as we can into the community. We want to provide and also serve and be a platform for young Talent and young adults and youth players in our community. And this gives us that opportunity,” Guerra said.

  • He added that he wants public tryouts, which the Rising have held a few times in the past, to become an annual exercise.

1 big inspiration: If someone from tryouts makes the final roster, they won’t be the first. Zac Lubin followed this path and was the Rising’s starting goalkeeper for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

  • In 56 matches, Lubin had 22 shutouts and 149 saves, according to the team.

What’s next: The Rising open their regular season on March 11 with a road game against the Charleston Battery in South Carolina.

  • Axios Phoenix will keep you posted on whether anyone from this weekend’s tryouts makes the roster.

Of note: The Rising are building a new stadium at the former Greyhound Park Racetrack at 38th and Washington streets, which is expected to be open in time for the start of the 2023 regular season.

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