USL CHAMPIONSHIP

Austin Bold fall to Phoenix Rising FC in penalties in Western Conference Quarterfinals

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The Austin Bold FC season came to an end Saturday night in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs with a loss to Phoenix Rising FC. 

After playing to a scoreless draw through regulation and added extra time, top-seeded Phoenix downed No. 8 seed Austin 8-7 in penalties, bring the first season in Bold history to ad end. 

“The first year is very hard, but now it's time to rest and celebrate the season,” Bold head coach Marcelo Serrano said. “We did a good job, and now we can think about next year. This franchise has everything to make waves, not just on the pitch but off it as well.”

Austin had just a three-day turnaround since beating LA Galaxy II 2-0 in the opening round. Goals from Ema Twumasi and Sean McFarlane helped the Bold pick up their first playoff win ever. 

“I said that if the players did the work before the match and executed well, we'll have a great game,” Serrano said of the short span in between games. “I trusted the players to do that, and that's what happened. It was a great game planned and a great game executed. In this game, it felt like we were the team that could have advanced.”

Phoenix forward Adam Jahn almost gave Rising FC an early lead when his header bounced off the crossbar in the 15th minute. 

The best chance for Austin came when Twumasi came late in the first half when he got one-on-one with Phoenix goalkeeper Zac Lubin, but couldn’t put it away what would have been his second goal in the playoffs. 

Austin missed its second penalty, but Bold FC keeper Diego Restrepo saved a Phoenix shot in the fourth round of penalties. 

In the ninth round of penalties, Lubin got a hand to Jermaine Taylor's penalty, and A.J. Cochren converted his left-footed shot to help Phoenix Rising advance to the USL Championship Western Conference semifinals. 

“We leave this season, after a full year of working hard, with our heads up,” Bold FC General Manager Roberto Silva said. Looking forward, I know there are a lot of things we can do better next year. If we can really do those things better, I'm sure next season we can do even more.”

Serrano and the rest of the Bold leadership were happy with how the first season turned out but said they have to shoot for a higher goal in the 2020 season.

“Congratulations to the players, the ownership, the front office, to the fans who were amazing at home and on the road, Serrano said. “I think we did way more than what was expected from us, but that can't be the excuse for next year. We need to start how we finished next year, and we'll have success.”

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