The Colorado Springs Switchbacks took came to Reno on Saturday for a Week 21 matchup that would not disappoint. Reno came into this one after a 4-1 loss in Orange County on Wednesday. Leading up to that Reno had won 5 straight. Colorado Springs came into this one after a 1-0 loss to Oklahoma City. This was the second of two Reno vs Colorado Springs games this season. This will be the last time these two play this season unless Colorado Springs makes the playoffs. I do not think that Colorado Springs will be making the playoffs.
I thought in this game that Reno needed to focus on offense. I didn’t think Colorado Springs was an offensive threat. Leading up to this match Colorado Springs only scored 4 goals in their last 6 matches. I thought Reno could exploit their lack of offense by making them chase the scoreline.
I wanted Reno to not worry about defense. I thought this because Colorado Springs wasn’t much of an offensive threat going into this match. Reno has also been working on transitioning to matching San Jose’s defensive tactics, which means that the team has been focusing on defense a lot lately. I also wanted Reno to use their last game as motivation to win this one.
If Colorado Springs was going to win the game they would have to start by finding something that works on offense. They have no stand out offensive players. My thought was that they needed (still need to) try different tactics until they find something that works. Once they find something that works for them, improve on it for the rest of this season then use it next season. Part of the problem with trying to find a strategy that works on offense is that you could end up leaving the back-field open. If they did leave the backfield open they would need to watch for Reno’s counter-attack. Even if they went going to try anything new, I thought that some of their midfield or back end would move up to try to create more offensive chances. Doing that would also open up the back end for Reno’s counter-attack. Lastly, if they were to have any chance of winning the game they would have to kill Reno’s momentum every chance they got. Doing things like slowing the pace of the game down, putting the ball out of bounce every chance they got, and intentionally fouling to slow down Reno’s offense are some of the ways they could do that.
What happened in the first half?
Reno started the scoring off with a goal in the 18’ minute scored by Corey Hertzog. The goal was assisted by Raul Mendiola. The play started in the backfield. Raul took two touches and was able to launch the ball around forty yards to Corey. The ball dropped right in front of him. He had two defenders chasing him. He only had time for one touch. The goalie was running back to get in the net. Corey one-touch floated the ball right over the goalie.
Reno would continue the scoring in the 27’ minute. This goal would come from Duke Lacroix. The assist again would come from Raul Mendiola. Raul would get the ball just outside of the left side of the box. Raul showed incredible skill during this play. He was able to get his defender to move out of his way. He then drew another defender to him while all the other defenders in the box were looking at him. He was then able to find a wide-open Duke Who had no trouble putting it in the back of the net. What happened during this play is that all of the Colorado Springs defenders were watching the ball. Most of them were not paying attention to what was going on inside the box. I don’t think the blame is only on the defender who should have had Duke covered (even though he let Duke get within 10 yards of the goal before going to defend him). I think this is the fault of the entire defense for not paying attention to what was going on inside the box. That doesn’t take away from the fact that it was an amazing effort by Raul to draw in the entire defense then find Duke.
In the 45’ minute Abraham Rodriguez made his best save of the night. Reno got a free kick (about 15 yards outside of the box). Corey Hertzog faked like he was going to take it and Lindo Mfeka took the shot. The shot went over the wall and towards the bottom right corner. Rodriguez made a pretty standard diving save. That pretty much ended the half.
What happened in the second half?
Corey Hertzog almost scored again in the 49’ minute. He was set up almost the same way he was for the first goal. This time he was set up from a ground pass. It went through a lot of players including the Colorado Springs backline. Corey had to chase it down but he was a good 10 yards ahead of the backline. He slowed down a bit to get more control over the ball. Rodriguez came out to challenge for the ball. Corey shot the ball towards the right side of the goal. He beat everything but the post. Aidan Apodaca then got the rebound but his shot was blocked for a corner. I don’t know why Corey decided to shoot the ball instead of going around the keeper to get a wide-open net.
Lindo Mfeka would score his first of the night in the 51’ minute. The play started with a pass to Corey Hertzog from just inside the right side of the box. He would then pass it to Lindo who would give it right back. Corey would then cross it towards the left post. Kevin Partida would then head the ball towards the net but would hit the post. Lindo would then get the rebound which he would put in the net. Overall it was a great team effort. No one gave up on the play. Reno hustled to get to win the ball. That play looked like it was only a matter of time before the ball went into the net. All of the Colorado Springs defenders looked like they were running around with their heads cut off. While it might not be a highlight real play I think Reno needs more plays like this. Plays were we out-hustle the other team and don’t give up after the first attempt.
The last goal of the night came in the 69’ minute. The goal was the second of the night for Lindo Mfeka and was assisted by Will Seymour. Reno’s pass inside the box had just been blocked. Everyone had started moving out of the box. The ball had found its way to Will. Will found Lindo with one touch. Lindo was wide open on the right side of the box. He would settle the ball down. He ran towards the box. He took his shot from 7 yards out. He put a lot of power into the shot. It hit the crossbar then dropped into the net. It was great situational awareness by Will to not only find Lindo but to read the play and know that the defenders were out of position. Overall this goal was the last nail in the coffin for Colorado Springs. That was the point when I think they gave up.
Things started to get heated to end the game. I think that Colorado Springs was upset with their performance and recent performances. Crowds did gather a couple of times during the game. Emotions started to show in the last fifteen minutes of the game. Five yellow cards were handed out between both teams in the last fifteen minutes of the game. Four of those cards were for “arguments”. Which means that they were in each other’s faces pushing and shoving. This came to a head at the end of the match. In the 90+3’ of the game, Brent Richards and Matthew Hundley got into a fight. Not much of a fight, but a fight. They were throwing fists and they both were restrained by their teammates. I don’t who started it. The ref did call the game following both players getting yellow cards.
There were defiantly some incidences of bad blood and hard fouls between the teams. I think the ref handled those incidences pretty well for the most part. No calls did occur earlier in the match, but I think he did lose control of the match in the last fifteen minutes. He did try to get some control back in the 80’ minute by handing out two yellow cards. I think that this was the right choice. Things continued to happen in the last ten minutes that he did nothing about. Both teams still played fairly aggressive. I think whatever control the ref had or was trying to gain back over the match was lost in the last ten minutes. I think that’s why we ended up with a fight at the end of the match. The giving out the yellow cards in the 80’ minute was the ref showing his authority. By doing so he gains some control over the game back. He lost control over the game in the last ten minutes by not making more calls. I think that if he made some more calls in the last ten minutes, there wouldn’t have been a fight to end the game.
The fight should have ended in two red cards not yellow cards in my opinion. I think that because both players landed punches, and there were more than five players involved. I get that it’s at the end of the game. I get that showing red cards to control the game is pointless at that point. I think the reason you show the red card is to show that that is not an acceptable way to end a game. Showing a yellow card at the end of a match is also pointless because it carries almost no consequence. I think once that happens the rest of the league will take notice. I don’t think it would happen again this season. It might also get teams who play more aggressively to slow down on how aggressive they play.
I give the officiating for this one a 4/10. I don’t think they did that bad. I think it only fell apart in the last fifteen minutes. I think the best-refed games are when you don’t even notice the ref. I think this was one of those games (for the most part). The ref did handle the last fifteen minutes ok. Honestly, I’m just doing some fault-finding to explain how some different situations could have been handled.
After match thoughts
I think it was really good that Reno had a game like this after the loss to orange county. I think this was an important win. I think it shows that we can put bad games behind us quickly. I think Reno had control over this game for almost the whole game. Towards the end of the game, it was clear that Colorado Springs game up. It showed badly at one point as Reno was just passing the ball amongst themselves in the attacking third without being challenged. I think it was a great win. I think that Reno did a lot right. I think that if we continue to play at this level we can contest for a championship.
1. Phoenix Rising FC
2. Reno 1868 FC
3. Fresno FC
4. Austin Bold FC
5. New Mexico United
1.Tampa Bay Rowdies
2. New York Red Bulls 2
3. Indy Eleven
4. North Carolina FC
5. Nashville SC
Saturday, August 3, 2019. Reno 1868 FC travels to Texas to take on the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros. Kickoff is set for 5:30. This will be match two of two for the regular season. Last time these two met Reno won 4-0. For more on that game click here (or you can click here and watch the All For Our City video).