Phoenix Rising looks to return to its championship contending ways with head coach Juan Guerra at the helm.
According to general manager Bobby Dulle, Guerra’s midseason hiring was made with the intent to win now and in the future.
“There were a lot of things we looked at when identifying our next head coach, and Juan checked all those boxes,” Dulle says.
One of those boxes was familiarity, as Guerra is a former Rising assistant coach. He’s familiar with not only the team but the goals and expectations of the organization as a whole.
“It feels great,” Guerra says about coming back. I’m super excited to be back, and I’m super excited to see familiar faces in that locker room that I know very well.”
For Guerra, this familiarity extends not only to the club but also to the fans. He knows the culture, and he desires to bring a style of play that the crowd has connected with.
Guerra describes his coaching style as a possession-based, offensive-minded approach. However, Guerra believes it is important for him to be flexible with his coaching style.
“It’s not so much about what I want to do, it is also a lot about what is in the locker room and who are the pieces at a given moment can give me their best. … We will adjust, adapt and transform to do whatever is necessary to try to win,” he says.
Guerra is no stranger to coaching for title-contending clubs. He was assistant coach in 2021 when the team finished atop the Pacific Division. He also served as an assistant with the Indy Eleven, who made a run to the Eastern Conference Final.
Guerra understands that leading a team to a championship is no small feat, and the road to the top is oftentimes filled with obstacles. He’s prepared for that.
“Good things take time. You have to make sure that you believe in your idea. The idea has to be clear,” he says.
“You have to make sure that you fight adversity, because adversity will come.”
Guerra says he believes it takes everyone in the organization to help the Rising succeed.
“I understand the responsibility that I have, but at the end of the day that responsibility is not just on me. It’s on absolutely everybody that represents the organization,” he says.
Guerra inherited the manager position in the middle of a heated playoff race. At the time, the Rising sat at a record of 8-5-11, five points back from a playoff spot with 10 matches left to go. Guerra says he’s focusing on each day, one by one, instead of instilling stress into his team.
The Rising provides him with the tools necessary to build a contender.
“I know the resources Phoenix Rising provides to the technical staff in order to put something on the field that can be successful, and I know I am going to have that.
“I identify and I feel close to the way the ownership thinks and how this organization thinks, about being ambitious and about always trying to get better. … All of us are obsessed with growth and development and that is what Phoenix Rising represents.”