USL Championship: Phoenix Rising parts ways with head coach Rick Schantz

The USL Championship's Phoenix Rising has parted ways with Rick Schantz.

The Rising has won just one of its last 12 games and dropped into 10th place in the Western Conference, as of Wednesday morning, four points below the playoff line.

Schantz was one of the founders of Tucson FC and coach the PDL team for seven seasons before joining the Rising staff in 2017. He was interim coach twice following the departures of Frank Yallop (April 2017) and Patrice Carteron (June 2018) before becoming the head coach for the 2019 season when he was named the USL Championship Coach of the Year.

In 2019, the Rising broke USL single-season records for wins (24), points (78) and goals (89) as well as an American pro soccer record with 20 consecutive wins. It fell in the Western Conference semifinals to the eventual champion Real Monarchs. Phoenix came back and won the 2020 Western Conference championship, but the final was not played due to a Covid outbreak in the host Tampa Bay Rowdies' squad.

One of the wins came when San Diego forfeited a match against the Rising rather than play the second half after Rising star Junior Flemmings allegedly made a homophobic slur about San Diego’s Collin Martin, who is openly gay. Flemmings was suspended for six games and Schantz placed on administrative leave for three matches.

“I want to thank the owners, staff and especially all the players I was fortunate to work with these past five years,” Schantz said in a statement. “I have put my heart and soul into Phoenix Rising. It’s now time to turn over this amazing club to a fresh voice. I will forever remember the great moments we’ve had together.”

Assistant coach Danny Stone will take over as interim coach while Phoenix conducts a search for a new head coach.
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