Phoenix Rising hosts home opener before sold-out crowd

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In a momentous match, the Phoenix Rising football club took to the field tonight before a sold-out crowd against the Toronto FC II.

Final score? Zero to 1. 

Die-hard soccer fans filled the new stadium at the 101 and 202 for what was a historic moment for fans, the team and the new ownership group.

It's been a long time coming, and this team has waited patiently, finally getting to play in a stadium they can call home.

The excitement was electric as fans of all ages lined up to see history in the making, while at the official pub headquarters at the Thirsty Lion at Tempe Marketplace, the pre-game party started around 3 p.m. with the Red Fury fan group.

"We're the crazy fans who stand in the support section," says Brian Medendorp. "We just sing and chant during the entire game, and it's just so much fun," 

For the first time,  fans got to see their beloved Phx Rising team play its first home opener for the first time in March, and at home.

"It's wonderful," says John Mcpherson. "We followed them from Phoenix Wolves to AZ United, and it's a night-and-day difference."

For years the team shared the Peoria Sports Complex and Scottsdale Stadium with Baseball spring training teams. That means at home, they never played on a soccer-specific field, and the start of each season was on the road for up to a month.

"They acquire this team on August 31st, and in just six short months we've built the stadium, we rebranded the team, we've acquired International renowned players, and tonight is a celebration, and it's really for the fans," says Bobby Dulle, C.O.O. of Phx Rising FC. 

Now, this newly branded team, like a Phoenix, has risen with new owners and a pop-up stadium that was built in 53 days.

"I'm just going to walk in and enjoy this," says Kira Vargas, a die-hard fan. "This is wonderful we've been waiting years for this to come"

Fans are also excited about what might come next.

"Just the prospect of having an MLS team would be super awesome," says Jim Collier, a soccer fan and referee.

 The Phx Rising FC is one of 12 teams currently being considered for a Major League Soccer Division 1 Expansion Franchise. 

If they get it a new climate-controlled stadium will be built on this property, that could seat between 20,000 to 30,000 fans. And, professional soccer would officially solidify their foothold in this market. 

Tonight's sold out match exceeded some 6,500 fans, some with standing room only tickets. But, if you're not lucky enough to get a ticket through-out the season, you can catch the games at Thirsty Lion and on Cox channel 7 and 1007 in HD. Matches will also be streamed live on United Soccer Leagues YouTube channel. 

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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