Phoenix Rising FC fullback Darnell King was named to USL Championship’s Week 8 Team of the Week, the league announced on Tuesday.
King was able to get his first goal in a Phoenix Rising kit in Saturday night’s 2-0 win over San Diego Loyal SC.
A look at Darnell King’s first goal in a #PRFC kit.
— Jake Anderson (@jwa1994) August 16, 2020
The defender also managed to accumulate two interceptions, two recoveries and completed 23 of 30 passes (77%).
“Darnell has been fantastic, he’s a good veteran,” manager Rick Schantz said on a Zoom call Tuesday. “Being able to play both sides of the field really helps us a lot. He’s got good speed, good power.
“He’s an aggressive defender — just perfectly fits the mold for us. And he’s good on the ball, he can score goals. I know he used to be a forward in high school. … He’s been fantastic for our locker room and our club in general.
After Saturday’s contest, King said he spoke with Schantz and agreed with his manager that he needed to be playing higher up the pitch.
“It’s not higher up the field in the sense of only when we have the ball and we don’t want to play so expansive that our fullbacks are becoming wingers,” Schantz said of the conversation with King. “That’s not who we are. It’s more in the mentality of when we defend — not running away.
“So as soon as we lose the ball, what is our counter-press look like and how high can he be? How narrow can he be to help win the ball back right away? And I think you saw his relationship with Junior [Flemmings] was spectacular because Junior was asking him to go inside quite a bit so that he could receive the ball out wide.”
Schantz said he wishes people could hear King and Flemmings communicating during games and working together on their movements, overlapping runs and how to approach the opponent.
“The discussion was really what we call half-spaces, getting more people on your radar when you’re a defender,” Schantz said. “You’re not defending one person here at Phoenix Rising.
“You usually have two or three guys that you have to know where they’re at and how to press and how to attack. So he’s gotten used to that and you can see he’s doing a really good job.”
Phoenix Rising has now had 11 total appearances on the Team of the Week in just seven matches played this season.