Reno 1868 FC took on Phoenix Rising FC for the ninth game of the 2020 season. Reno was coming off of a win in San Diego. Phoenix was coming off of a draw in Las Vegas. Both teams led their respective groups. Both teams were 2-0 verse non-group opponents. On paper Reno and Phoenix seemed about even.
I was interested to see how Reno would play as Phoenix was the best team in the USL Championship last season during the regular season. Phoenix has been a dominant team since Reno entered the league back in 2017. Phoenix has been the measuring bar as to how good other teams are for the last two seasons. This game was going to be the hardest game Reno had played so far, this season. Reno has been playing with good energy and they needed to continue that. Reno needed to keep pressure on Phoenix the whole game. Las Vegas was able to draw with Phoenix with two late goals. If Reno kept their foot on the gas the whole game they should walk away with a similar result if not better. The problem was that Reno had struggled to keep pressure on opponents for an entire game.
Phoenix hadn’t lost a game since July 25. Despite not looking as good as last season phoenix still is a good team. They are still finding ways to win games. They are still winning most of their games by two goals. Reno was their most challenging non-group match. Reno was probably their most challenging match besides Orange County. Going into this match I thought phoenix had the offensive power to win the match. Phoenix needed to put their last game behind them. If they focused on that too much and not the game at hand they wouldn’t be able to win this match. They needed to focus on their game plan. Phoenix needed to not let up. Going into this I believed that the first team to take their foot off the gas would lose. My prediction for the game was a 3-2 Reno win. I thought there would be plenty of scoring. I thought both teams would have plenty of chances. If Reno was going to win I thought it would be by one goal. If either team was going to have an advantage I wanted it to be Reno. I thought neither team would have more than a one-goal advantage.
What Happened In The First Half
Before the start of the first half heavy smoky rolled into downtown Reno. It has been smoky in Reno for the last few weeks due to wildfires in Northern Nevada and Northern California. Between 6:30 and kickoff the air quality went from being moderate at 52 (yellow 51-100) to unsafe for sensitive groups at 143 (orange 101-150). The reason I was watching the air quality is that if it gets over 180 the USL stops games. That protocol was brought to my attention by stadium staff while discussing if it was too smoky to train/play when schools postponed classes because of the smoke.
In the 10’ minute, Phoenix took a penalty kick. The ball ended up just above the box after a Reno defender headed the ball. Sergio Rivas of Reno and Joey Calistri of Phoenix both challenged for the ball. Calistri touched the ball first. His forward momentum caused him to fall over. Rivas fell over as well. It looked like he fell over trying to avoid Calistri. He didn’t touch Calistri. A foul was still called on Rivas.
11’ minute phoenix took a free-kick. The spot was center and just above the box. The shot was taken and attempted to go to the top left corner. Ben Beaury made a save by jumping up to his right. His save would clear the ball out to the sideline.
27’ minute Sergio Rivas took an attempt at goal. He looked about 10 to 15 yards outside of the box. It was a right-footed shot to the center of the goal. It looked like he was trying to go crossbar down. Zac Lubin made knocked the ball down. He handled it easily as there was no pressure on him coming from Reno.
In the 31’ minute, Phoenix took a corner kick from the left side of the keeper. It was short passed 2 feet from the corner. It was put in the box immediately after that. Kevon Lambert headed the ball towards the net from the far side of the 6-yard box. Ben Beaury then put the ball over the crossbar.
42’ minute Thomas Janjigian of Reno received a yellow card.
What Happened In The Second Half
50’ minute Phoenix had an attempt. Lubin quickly threw the ball to Calistri. Calistri took the ball almost the length of the pitch at full speed. He was chased down by Christiano Francois. Francois had to close a 10-yard gap to catch Calistri. Francois wasn’t able to close the gap before Calistri took a shot. Francois was able to put enough pressure on Calistri that he wasn’t able to make a good play being forced to take a poor shot. Calistri’s attempt was a right-footed shot headed for the right top corner. Ben Beaury was able to make the save with little difficulty.
Reno scored the opening goal of the match in the 62’ minute. The goal was scored by Foster Langsdorf and assisted by Corey Hertzog. The ball was passed to Hertzog from about 20 yards outside of the box. The pass was a lead pass into the box. Hertzog would make a one-touch ground pass towards the net. Langsdorf buried the ball. He was able to tap the ball over the keeper. Zac Lubin was on the ground expecting the ball from Hertzog to be a shot. Langsdorf was able to get to the ball before it reached Lubin. Lubin was out of position. Langsdorf took advantage of that. Reno took their first lead on Phoenix since 2017.
77’ minute Phoenix would tie the game. Rufat Dadashuv would get the goal that was assisted by Kevon Lambert. Under pressure, Reno was trying to get the ball out of their half. A pass was tipped. Phoenix took possession. Lambert one-touch passed it into the box. Dadashuv was on the receiving end of the pass. He had room under pressure. He took a left-footed shot from the center of the box. The ball went into the bottom left corner of the net.
79’ minute Reno would retake the lead. Corey Hertzog would score the goal unassisted. Phoenix would pass the ball back to the defensive line. Hertzog was able to steal the ball from the A.J. Cochran. Hertzog took the ball from almost midfield into the box. He turned going toward the center of the box. Cochran was able to get in the box and put pressure on Hertzog. Hertzog was able to get around the Cochran. He took a left-footed shot from the center of the box. The shot beat Zac Lubin going into the top left corner of the net.
81’ minute Joey Calistri of Phoenix received a yellow card.
87’ minute Kevon Lambert of Phoenix received a yellow card. The card was for a foul away from the ball. Lambert pushed Corey Hertzog over right in front of the ref.
90+2’ minute Jesus Enriquez of Reno took an attempt. Aidan Apodaca took the ball into the box. He passed it to Enriquez who was on the wing. He took a one-touch shot. It was a right-footed shot headed for the opposite corner. The shot missed the net by about afoot.
90+4’ phoenix had another attempt. The attempt was from Jack Barmby. His shot was a left-footed shot from outside of the box. The ball was headed for the center of the goal. Ben Beaury made the save it what should be the USL Championship save of the week. His save won Reno the game.
The match ended in a 2-1 Reno 1868 FC victory. Their first win against Phoenix since 2017.
After the match ended multiple Reno 1868 FC and Phoenix Rising FC players got in each other’s faces. It started with an argument between Rufat Dadashov and Corey Hertzog after the whistle. It got to the point where trainers, staff, and coaches came onto the field to try and break it up. There was shoving and yelling from both sides off the field.
90+6’ minute Rufat Dadashov of Phoenix received a yellow card. 90+6’ minute Corey Hertzog of Reno received a yellow card.
The reefing was terrible. The refs lost control of the game. There were a lot of missed calls in the first half. I thought that there were a few calls in both team’s favor that weren’t called right. The entire second half seemed like an attempt to regain control over the match. It didn’t work. They lost control of the game. You can see it when Kevon Lambert pushed Corey Hertzog over. He did get a yellow card for that but if the refs had control over the match he wouldn’t have done it. If they wanted the control back they might have given him a red for how bad the foul was. What happened after the match wouldn’t have happened either if the refs had control. I think it’s shocking that they didn’t fight. I think it’s astounding that the refs let it get to that point. It’s not the worst reefing I’ve seen this season but its decently up there. One of the biggest complaints about the refs was the no-call when the Phoenix keeper dribbled the ball into the box and picked it up. I couldn’t find an official rule on that. There were about ten people who said it was a violation. I give the refs a 2/10 for this match.
After Match Thoughts
In the first half, both teams played fairly even. Neither team had an edge. They both had solid chances. It’s what I was expecting in the first half. Phoenix early on showed a lot of frustration. The main reason I think they might have been upset coming into this match was the previous result in Las Vegas. They played like they were upset. It showed as they didn’t always have their head in the game. A few people were calling phoenix a dirty team during and after the match. They did fall a lot. Some of that can be attributed to flopping. They did commit some hard fouls. I don’t think they are a completely dirty team. I think Phoenix is more of an overly aggressive team. What they showed in this match was that they are hot-headed and they let people under their skin easily.
Reno did keep pressure on Phoenix the entire game. Nothing came easy for Phoenix. It’s good to see that Reno is capable of doing that. Reno did play with good energy. This time it was a little different than what we have seen. It was more aggressive and in your face then what we are used to from Reno. It doesn’t seem like Phoenix was able to put their last match behind them. It seemed like they were still focused on that. Phoenix didn’t let up for the entire game. Nothing came easy for Reno either. Where it seems like Phoenix went wrong is that they didn’t have their head in the game which didn’t allow them to play their best.
I predicted a 3-2 Reno win. I wasn’t off by much. I was right about it being a one-goal win. I was right that the teams were evenly enough matched that neither one would walk away with more than a one-goal lead.
This is a big win for Reno moving forward. They beat Phoenix for the first time since 2017. They were able to get points in the extra game they had on Sacramento. Reno stepped up to the task of defeating one of the top teams in the USL Championship. They did a lot right in this match. They have been doing a lot right. Moving forward they need to keep the ball rolling. Translating what they have been doing into their next match as well as future matches.
Current Group A Standings
August, 30, 2020
Reno 1868 FC (21pts)
Sacramento Republic FC (18pts)
Tacoma Defiance (7pts)
Portland Timbers 2 (0pts)
Reno 1868 FC will take on Portland Timbers 2 on September 5, 2020. That game will take place at Greater Nevada Field. Kickoff is currently set for 7 PM. Reno has defeated Portland twice already this season. Reno has scored a total of nine goals while only allowing three. The game can be watched on ESPN+ or Nevada Sports Net. Fans are still currently not allowed in the ballpark. The game can be watched from outside of the ballpark.