The Silver State Cup was back in action for the first time in 2019. Reno had won the cup in its inaugural season last year. There was a lot of hype for this game. Leading up to this game I did a promotional video using Truckee (Reno 1868 FC’s mascot) and the Cup itself. I was super pumped when match day finally came.
Some shenanigans happened leading up to the match. The first thing was Las Vegas’s own goal during the open cup. It’s not that big of a deal. Reno had an own goal back when we traveled to Fresno. This goal kicked off the twitter war between Reno and Las Vegas fans. It was bound to happen and it’s still going on to a degree. It never really stops. It was bound to happen at some point anyway. Based on what happened towards the end of last season I don’t think it is the best idea to get into twitter wars with other fan groups.
That leads to a couple of Las Vegas supporter groups saying that they weren’t going to come to Reno. This lead to a whole thing about them not supporting their team in their rivalry match. I think that true fans will support teams no matter where the team is playing. What also brought up is that there was a Las Vegas away match in Phoenix that some of their supporters decided to go to. From what I heard the Las Vegas fans left early because they were losing. As a player that really has to suck know that your supporters (who are supposed to be your most hard-core fans) will find excuses to not travel or will leave early when the team is losing.
Another thing that did get brought up briefly is that the owner wants to sell the team. I can’t confirm this, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was true. It wouldn’t surprise me because the team hasn’t done well on the field and off the field, they have become a joke.
Some of the fans also said that Las Vegas wanted to become MLS. This would be possible since they are the sole attendants of their stadium and Las Vegas has shown that it can support top league teams. I don’t know that the MLS will want them. What they did last year doesn’t show what the MLS wants to be. I’m talking about fans throwing stuff onto the field, (at opposing teams and referees multiple times) having a player get in the crowd to fight a fan, having multiple players and coaches suspended multiple games, and the fans doing the “puto” chant. Las Vegas doesn’t have control over their fans and I think that is an issue for trying to become MLS.
The Las Vegas fans antics continued on the morning of the match. Starting in 2019, on the morning of every home match some of the players and fans go out for smoothies. They go to Keva Juice. The store even named a flavor after the team. It’s just a nice little thing that Reno does. Someone from Las Vegas decided to call the store during the time all the players and fans were there. The person who picked up the phone didn’t know what was going on. I’m not sure what the Las Vegas fan was trying to say but at one point he said, “fuck Reno”. The employee hung up after that.
I do want to give a quick shout out through to the two Vegas fans I did see at the game. Those guys are true fans. I don’t know if any other Las Vegas fans showed up. I did hear that 11 tickets were sold for the away supporter section. I did not, however, see anyone in that section the whole game.
Is this going too far? Not really. It is borderline. If it was just a prank call I think it would be fine. As soon as things start being said like fuck Reno it’s too far. The effort that was put into this was ridiculous considering that most of them won’t even travel.
Moving on to something that happened right before the match, I got hit with the ball. I was standing in section 102 (which is directly behind the net). I was in the second row, right behind the capo stand. What happened was one of the players was trying to hit the crossbar. They missed it by about 3 inches. The ball went right over and hit me square in the face. I was bleeding. I didn’t know why I was bleeding. I went over to the medics and got cleaned up. Got an ice pack and was back before kickoff. I was only bleeding from my lip and that’s the only injury I got. After the fact, I got a lot of jokes about me being ugly. A couple of my friends called me a pussy for going over to the medics. The best joke I heard was “what does the ball say to the face…SMACK”. I wasn’t recording at the time but I do have footage of when the ball hit me. It will probably be in the All For Our City video at the end.
I covered a lot of this in my live pregame show on Twitter. You can check out that episode of 1868 Now on my Twitter.
Leading up to this match, Reno had a bye week. My thought was that they should be well rested for this match. On the other hand, too much rest could lead to the team being sluggish and having a slow start to the game.
I thought Las Vegas would try to run a counter-attack offense. I did not think that they had the offense or defense to support that style of play. I also thought that they would put as many guys up front as possible.
There was a big looming question for Reno leading up to this match. That question was, will Brian Brown play? He got called up to the Jamaican national team for the second time this season. That was announced Friday. It would be a huge loss for Reno if he didn’t play. He didn’t play in Fresno. That was the first game where he got called up to his national team. Our offense really struggled in that game. That was because Brian is our top scorer, playmaker and offensive player. Like I have said before he is the driving offensive force for Reno.
As a team, I thought Reno should be patient. I didn’t think that they should try to rush things. I thought that they should take time with things. I thought Reno should try to dictate the pace of play as much as possible. Slow the game down if necessary. Do whatever they could in that regard to throw Vegas off their game. Then I said that they shouldn’t get emotional. Don’t take unnecessary fouls. Don’t challenge for the ball When you don’t have to. Don’t let them get under your skin. Vegas is a very emotional team. If Reno gets emotional, then they play right into Vegas’s hands.
I thought Vegas would need to elevate their play. This year or last year they have not been a good enough team to outright beat Reno. This is also a rivalry game so I did think that both teams would elevate how well they play. I also thought that there are plenty of individual players who would also play better for personal reasons. I thought that it would need to be quick to get back on defense most of the time. This would be because Vegas is playing the counter-attacking style. I thought that if they don’t end every offensive play with a shot or dead ball that they were going to get burned on defense. The last thing I Thought Vegas should be doing if they want to win would be to make Reno chase the score. If they could score early and be ahead at halftime I thought that they could have had a chance. If they couldn’t do that then there probably wasn’t a chance.
What happened in the first half?
The game started off without a feeling out period. I thought this would happen because I thought both teams would be well prepared for this game. Less than 12 minutes in, Brian Brown took a shot from just outside the box. It would beat the keeper only to hit the post. The Vegas defender would then clear the ball. What is interesting here is that there where 2 defenders within distance to challenge for the ball. Neither one of them did. If there is one guy on the field that Vegas needs to challenge it’s Brown. They didn’t. The post saved them.
Kevin Partida (his bobblehead night) got a yellow card in the 29th minute. I didn’t see a replay. I don’t know if it was deserved or not. I just wanted to mention it. It was the only card of the first half.
In the 41st minute, Corey Hertzog would score off of an assist from Brian Brown. The play started off with a corner kick. It was taken quickly and was a ground pass to right above the corner of the box. From there it was put into the box. Brown-headed to down and towards the front of the net. Hertzog got the ball and tapped it in. It looked like most of the Las Vegas defenders were just standing around flat-footed. The keeper did challenge Hertzog for the ball. There wasn’t much he could have done though.
Reno would take the one-goal lead into the second half. Overall, I think it was a solid half from Reno. They were already dictating the game fairly well by the time they scored. The way the game was going at that point Reno could have had 1 or 2 more goals. All of the momentum was in their favor going into the second half.
What happened in the second half?
Reno was really hungry for that second goal. They would get it less than 5 minutes into the second half. In the 48th minute, Brian Brown would score to make it 2-0 Reno. Brown’s goal was assisted by Corey Hertzog. Hertzog would chip it to Brown over Vegas defenders into the box. Brown used his chest to get the ball to his foot where he would just take a shot. The shot cleanly beat the keeper. Again, Vegas looked flat-footed. They weren’t taking advantage of opportunities to challenging for the ball. It was a really good shot by Brown. It was good teamwork from Reno. I think Brian Brown and Corey Hertzog have a lot of chemistry right now. If they build on it, Reno could have two Brian Browns. When that happens Reno’s offense will be unstoppable.
In the 64th minute, Raul Mendiola would get a yellow card. In the 79th minute, he would score to put Reno up 3-0. They would give Sergio Rivas the assist. I think this goal should have gone unassisted. Mendiola got the ball at about the Half. He would take it all the way to just inside the box. In the process of doing that he would juke a couple of defenders. From there he shot the ball right into the lower corner. That play was an exhibition of speed and ball handling skill. He was on a mission and he looked unstoppable. This goal would be a special one for him too as this was his first goal against his former team. He did play for Las Vegas last year and he was their top scorer.
Reno would finish off the scoring with a goal in the 86th minute. The goal would be scored by Duke Lacroix. He got the ball after a Las Vegas defender blocked a shot. Lacroix would walk up to the box unchallenged. He took a curved shot that would go far side corner. Reno would go up 4-0. Being unchallenged he had all the time in the world to take his shot. I think it was a really impressive shot. He didn’t have a lot of other options either. That makes me glad that he went for it. I’d like to see more guys go for it in games where the scoreline is closer.
I think that the referee did a solid job. He stayed very consistent. He didn’t favor either team. He did miss some calls and call some soft calls but he was consistent. This was probably one of the better-refereed matches I have seen all season. When Vegas was starting to get more emotional and started pushing more, I think that the ref did a good job handling it. There was one point I thought a fight was going to break out and he did a good job to stop it from escalating. I am pleased with how the ref handled this game.
After match thoughts
This match is going to go down as a beat down. Reno won 4-0. This was probably the best game Reno has played against Las Vegas. It will be extremely hard for Vegas to win the Silver State Cup after that match. Everything leading up to this match made it that much more special.
Reno really did step up in this game. Two players who stepped up really big in this one where Raul Mendiola and Zach Carroll. I think Raul had a great game. I think he really wanted to show off against his former team. The goal he scored really shows what he is capable of and I think he will start to tear things up in the league as he will probably get a larger offensive role with the team since Brian Brown will be with Jamaica. That’s what happened last time Brown was called up and I think it will happen again. Zach Carroll surprised me with the level of play he brought to the table for this game. I think he is diffidently a consistent player. he really showed the level he can play at in this game. I’m hoping that this wasn’t a one-game thing for him. I hope that he continues to play at this level. If he does it will be good for the team. I also think that it does he will end up in the MLS.
Matt Bersano was outstanding in this game. I really missed him last year. I miss him, even more, this year. He is MLS caliber. He is amazing to watch. He commands his defense really well. He can be a brick wall when he wants too. The amount of playing time he is getting in San Jose is disappointing. If he was consistently on our roster like he was in our first season I think we would be in the first place and could win the cup. I’m not sure how long he will be with us but I hope it’s not just not one game.
1. New Mexico United
2. Portland Timbers 2
3. Phoenix Rising FC
4. Reno 1868 FC
5. Fresno FC
1.Tampa Bay Rowdies
2. New York Red Bulls 2
3. Nashville SC
4. Ottawa Fury FC
5. Indy Eleven
Saturday, June 8, 2019. In San Antonio. At Toyota Field. Kickoff is set for 5:30 pm. This week 14 matchup will be the first of two matchups Reno has against San Antonio.