Week 2 of the USL Championship season saw a thrilling match between Reno 1868 FC and Austin Bold. This game saw he return of Diego Restrepo. The relationship between Restrepo and the Reno fans has always been exciting. It is a relationship where the Reno fans love to hate him. Fans look forward to this match similarly to a rivalry game. As much preparation goes into hating him as some of the rivalry games the Reno plays against Sacramento or Las Vegas. Part of the preparations that goes into any match is making signs. This match had an above average number of signs. One sign that the Battle Born Brigade had taunted Restrepo about the game winning goal he gave up in last year’s home match against San Antonio. One of the things that the Douglas Alley Renegades did for Restrepo in this game was that they got a Shrek doll, put yellow clothes on it, and then painted the Austin logo on the front with Restrepos name on the back.
It was also Zach Carroll’s birthday. On Friday (the day before the match), he participated in St. Baldricks. At the event, he got his head shaved for childhood cancer. The Battle Born Brigade sang him happy birthday at the end of the match. The Douglas Alley Renegades also had a giant birthday card for him. So, he was easily identifiable during the match.
Going into the game I was thinking a lot about what brand of soccer that Austin would play. Would they play counter? Would they stay back? Do they want to dictate the pace of the game or sit back and let Reno? I have come to find out that they play a style of soccer that I really don’t like. It is very common in the sport, but I still don’t like it. The thing I was most thinking about with Reno is was Brian Brown 100%. After going down last week, heading into this match I questioned it. He did play the whole game and he looked to have not been phased by what happened in the last match.
Two things stood out to me when I saw the staring 11. The first thing was that Seth Casiple was a starter. It didn’t surprise me. It was however a question going into the match. This was because his defensive mistake last week lead not only to the first orange county goal, but to the eventual loss of the match. Some of the fans thought that he should have been benched. But that’s not the fans choice. I don’t think that players at this level should be making mistakes like that, but as fans we don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes. We don’t know what the coach’s reaction was. We don’t know what the locker room interactions were, and we don’t know what happened in practice. I believe that all of those things were determining factors in the coach’s decision. The second thing was the goal tending choice. Matt Bersano was not in Reno last week. He is on the roster. He has been on the roster all year. He did get the start in the match. I was surprised by this decision. I think it is San Jose who made the decision. The reason it is surprising is that Reno now has 4 goalies. It is hard for me to figure out what San Jose is doing with their goalies. I think overall San Jose is and will be doing a lot of roster mixing. I think they are doing that because they are in the same spot they were in last year. I think they are trying to find anything that will work. At this point that means trying different player combinations. I think that Matt coming to Reno is just a part of that.
What happened in the first half?
The game started out with a feeling out period. Both teams were playing like they were trying to figure out how the other one was going to play the game. This ended up not working for Reno as Austin would score at the 14th minute. The goal was scored because Reno failed to clear the ball out of the box. There were two defenders who both got touches before the ball went in. It was a break for Austin. The way Austin played the rest of the match, showed what I think could be their game plan for the rest of the year. Once they had the lead, they did whatever they could to waste time. Austin players started dropping like flies. They were in no rush get the ball out of their half. They even were passing the ball to their keeper to waste time. Almost everything they did was to waste time. When teams do this as early as Austin started to do this, it is usually a sign that they don’t think that will be able to score again. This is a strategy that is used in all sports. It is rarely effective though.
A yellow card was given out before the end of the half. All cards in the game were given to Austin. Reno had all of the chances for the rest of the half. Reno was building a lot of momentum going into the second half.
What happened in the second half?
Reno started the half by making some substitutions. With all the momentum they had built in the first half behind them, Reno was able to score just one minute into the second half. I think bringing in fresh legs played a key role in helping Reno keep their momentum going to start the second half. I also think that Austin having to defend the side with the Douglas Alley Renegades played a role in throwing Diego Restrepo off his game. It was clear by the way Restrepo kept walking as close to the center field as possible that they were in his head. He was also doing other things that he did not do in the first half (like dropping balls) that indicate that they were able to throw him off his game. The second goal Reno would score came in the 78th minute. At that point Austin had a few chances but had failed to get anything on net. The goal was scored by Brian Brown. It was his second of the match. The ball was put in front of him after a long pass. Restrepo went out of position to get the ball. He also failed to make any contact with the ball. This made it easy for the ball to find the back of the net after Brown had headed around Restrepo. While Reno was able to score after only three touches, this goal is ultimately Restrepo’s fault. He went out of position, and in my opinion, he did not challenge for the ball hard enough to get out of the reach of Brown.
The rest of the game was fairly simple, Reno just had to hold on. The rest of the half Austin only got one shot close to net and most of their shots were off target. This made it provided no real challenge for Reno outside of having to clear the box a few times. One of Austin’s players did go down in the final 10ish minutes. I do hope he is ok. Him going down was the one time any Austin player really went down. They were dropping like flies the for most of the game but those were all flops.
After match thoughts
I am glad we were able to get a win before they travel to Fresno. This takes off some of the pressure to win on the road. This also takes away the pressure of winning that first game. Getting that first win has a lot of pressure behind to it. That pressure also builds the further along the team goes without it. Reno also has started an undefeated streak. Not a win streak. A no loss streak. It might be small and insignificant at only 2 games, but it’s another thing Reno fans are excited about. If they do win in Fresno, I think that they will be able to go undefeated in March. Weather they are undefeated in march or not they will have the chance to be if they win their next game.
The Next Reno 1868 FC game will be Against Fresno FC. That game will be in Fresno. That game will be the first away game of Reno’s 2019 campaign. It will also be the first road trip of 2019. The game take place Saturday March 23rd at 7:30pm. The game will take place at Chukchansi Park.