This week’s match took Reno to Salt Lake City. This was the second road trip of the season. It didn’t seem as much effort went into this trip as the Fresno trip. The fans did manage to bring in just as much people. Even though a couple of people dropped out last minute. This trip was more fun. I think that’s just because it was a weekend trip. Everyone came up Friday, so they had plenty of rest going into Saturday. Then not leaving until Sunday with the early game Saturday, meant that there was plenty of time to do more tourist type things on Saturday. I can’t speak for everyone but I think that’s why these trips are more fun.
I don’t like MLS 2 teams. They are reserve teams and I think the USL Championship and League One are development leagues. What that means is that players entering those leagues should be entering them to develop their skills over the course of the season. I don’t think that these leagues should be used how teams like the Seattle Sounders used Tacoma this week or how Houston loans players to RGV. Both of these teams send MLS caliber players to these teams for single matches. In Tacoma’s case the reason I think the players were sent down is to send a message from Seattle to Sacramento. Other minor league sports there are rules against doing things like this. It’s not fair to players who are trying to develop. It’s not the fair to either team. It’s pretty much fielding a different team.
I understand sending players down to rehab or develop but doing it just to win a single game is dumb. I know soccer does things like this around the world. I understand players need to get playing time and sometimes this is the only way to get it. I think there’s an easy solution to this. Establish USL Championship and League One as development and institute a reserve league for MLS. I know the former MLS reserve league didn’t work. I think that the MLS has grown to a point where a reserve league could work. The USL could even partner with a league like the United Premier Soccer league to host USL Championship and League One reserves. I could see promotion relegation in the USL across all three leagues become more of a possibility if more things were put in place to separate the league as a development league instead of a reserve league.
Last reason regarding why I don’t like MLS 2 teams is that they aren’t there to make money. This means that there can be and have been situations where they play with no fans and the team won’t care. This hurts the league. Having teams that aren’t concerned with profit hurts the growth of the league, it hurts the popularity of the league, and it hurts other teams. An example of this was the preseason tournament in Salt Lake City. It was closed to the public, therefor it made no money. It became something fans didn’t care about instead of becoming a big deal. I think the league missed out on an opportunity to grow in that the markets of the participating clubs. Another thing that I found out after the match thank to some of the Salt Lake fans, is that the team limits the support the fans can give. This is done by limiting the merchandise that is being sold. Apparently, the fans cannot buy the jerseys and are limited to basic merch. I don’t know if this is limited to Salt Lake or stretches to other MLS 2 teams, but this doesn’t allow the fans to fully support the team. Which limits the popularity the team and league can have within that market. I think that this along with other things that might be happening along the same line is because the MLS team doesn’t want to invest into the team because the team isn’t there to make money.
Anyway, on to the game.
Going into this one I thought that both Reno and Salt Lake are top of the conference teams. I thought Reno might have an edge because of their offensive ability. I was hoping that the team would continue their point steak. After last week, I thought that it was going to be a challenge to walk away with any points at all. I was just hoping that the defense and ultimately the team as a whole wouldn’t give up in the last ten to twenty minutes. Well you can’t give up if you don’t try.
What happened in the first half?
Less than five minutes in Reno had a penalty kick. It was deserved. I think it was a soft foul in the box that lead to the kick. It was kind of stupid on the Salt Lake player to make that foul in that situation. The Reno player telegraphed his kick though. So, it didn’t go in. There’s not much anybody can do on a penalty kick. Personally, I like to do to the keepers non-dominate side. I think it makes it harder for the keeper to dive for the ball. I think missing the penalty kick lead to the game heading into the direction it did. I think it gave Salt Lake some energy. Salt Lake would score at 6’. The scoring player got the ball in the box. The defender didn’t really challenge him. Neither did the keeper. By the way JT was in net not matt. I do think that affected the outcome. He put it right though JT’s legs. It looked like a really soft goal. If he closed his legs he might have been able to stop it, but the defense letting Salt Lake control the ball in the attacking zone for as long as they did is the real issue with that play and most of the game. Salt Lake would score less than ten minutes later. They scored at the 15’. Again, on this goal Reno just let Salt Lake control for too long. The shot went fairly unchallenged just like in the previous goal. The shot came from outside the box. It was a little bit lucky, I think Matt could have saved it. The shot was not the issue though. The defense was. Reno can’t let other teams control, look for and find a good shot opportunities and then expect them not to score. If that makes sense.
After that Reno had some other chances but could get anything to convert. This included a shot that hit the post and bounced out. Salt Lakes final goal would come in the 48’ minute. It was a shot I think that should have been blocked. JT was out of position on this goal. He was too far over to his left. I don’t fault him for doing this because a Salt Lake player was left undefended just outside the box on that side. The defense really messed up on this play by leaving the Salt Lake player open. He was able to get the ball into the middle fairly easy. The Reno defender was right on the Salt Lake player who received the ball. It didn’t look like he even tried to put his foot in a position to block the attacking player from getting a shot. That was pretty much it for that half. I was glad when that half was over because we looked terrible.
What happened in the second half?
To start it looked like Salt Lake wanted to play the keep away game. I think that’s fine. I think they did it in the proper way. Unlike how Austin tried to do it. They waited until they were up by three. They waited until the game pasted the half way mark. They also didn’t stop looking for offensive opportunities, instead they weren’t settling for anything outside of what they wanted. Reno could have taken advantage of this. Understanding what the other team is doing and adjusting is always something Reno has struggled with. This game was no exception. Knowing that Salt Lake feels no rush to move the ball forward, Reno should have switched to a more attacking position. They didn’t do that. It even got to a point where the players looked unmotivated. Except Sam. Sam at one point looked like the only one trying. They picked it up in the last fifteen minutes or so, but by then they needed to dig out of a hole. The goal Reno got was like Salt Lake didn’t care. At that point Salt Lake was starting to play with the same kind of attitude Reno had for most of the second half. Reno didn’t mount a comeback. Honestly their goal felt like they got one shot to go in after so many chances that there wasn’t enough time in the game for a comeback. It also looked like Salt Lake woke up a little after the goal. So, although a comeback would have been nice it wasn’t going to happen.
After match thoughts
Reno continued to struggle to convert despite getting some quality chances. This is very similar to last year. I figure we will have games like this. That’s because Reno heavily relies on Brown to be the driving force of the offence. Doing this isn’t the best because if he doesn’t play at a high quality every night then the team will struggle. Other teams will catch on too. So, it will then become harder for him to produce at the same level. With the small amount of games that are played in soccer, I could see this back firing more times than not. The defense didn’t show up at all. Up to this point our defense has been making key mistakes that have really been hurting the team. In this game, they just didn’t show up. They looked like they were playing sluggish. They weren’t really challenging for the ball. In the first half, they let Salt Lake control the ball without being challenged in our zone for too long. For most of the second half they pretty much let Salt Lake do whatever they wanted unchallenged. After the third Salt Lake goal, it looked like Reno gave up. I don’t like this. Doing this really shows what the teams mental state will be on away games this season. This could also be just how the team is without the leadership skills of Matt.
Overall the team played poorly. I don’t like it, but that’s just the way it is sometimes. My perception about how good the team was has changed. UP to this point I thought they were a top conference team. Even going as far as being a powerhouse. Now I think that they are a mid-conference team. That’s at least how there playing now. I think that if they continue play the way they are, they will struggle to make the playoffs. I also think it’s a little early to define their position in the group. I think we will know more clearly in June or July.
They need to change things up. They are not finding success with what they are currently doing. I think the defense needs to get their act together. The two things that I think they need to do are; calm down when making a play in order to make the smarter play, and don’t let guys go unchallenged. There are people in our lineup who need to step up on offense. Our offense has been producing satisfactory, but not especially good. I just think that there is room for improvement. The number of players producing offence is too low for the team to be successful. We have also had key chances in the last couple of games that we didn’t convert. I think that our chance to conversion ratio should be higher than where it is. I also think that fans need to stop talking about different players on San Jose that they think could or should be playing in Reno. I know I’m guilty of this. I am also upset at the way San Jose is using our affiliation this season. I think that the team we have on field is not going to change much for the rest of the season. I think the improvement’s that need to be made can be. I think that if they are we can easily be a powerhouse team.
The teams next match will take them to Colorado Springs. They will be playing the Colorado Switchbacks FC. The match will take place on Saturday April 13, 2019 at 5:00pm. The match is being held at Weidner Field.