Record crowd of 7,092 watches Reno, Phoenix play to 0-0 tie at Greater Nevada Field
Playing host to a pair of international superstars in a match dripping with early playoff implications, Reno squared off with Phoenix on Friday night in arguably the most anticipated contest in young franchise history.
The defense held former Chelsea star, Didier Drogba, and Mexican great, Omar Bravo, out of the net and settled for a 0-0 draw in front of a record crowd of 7,092 at Greater Nevada Field.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t one of the best feelings in the world,” Reno keeper Matt Bersano said of shutting out one of his childhood idols, Droga. “But again, it is all credited to the (defensive) guys back there with me.”
“You know just getting a clean sheet was big,” defender Jimmy Ockford said. “To not allow a team like that to score is big for us.”
The clean sheet was Bersano’s fifth of the season as Drogba was limited by Reno’s defensive line to just one shot on target.
The draw snapped a four-game home winning streak for Reno (6-4-4), which slid one spot in the standings down to seventh. Phoenix (5-5-3) picked up a lone point for the third consecutive match.
Despite controlling most of the contest (54 percent possession), Reno could not find the back of the net even with six shots on target.
“I thought we had some chances but getting a clean sheet is always a good result,” Reno coach Ian Russell said.
A majority of Reno’s chances came in the first half. Reno worked the ball along the near sideline to defender Brent Richards, who finished the night with two shots on target.
Reno midfielder Darwin Espinal, playing his second game with the team since signing last week, perhaps had the shot of the night from outside the box where his screamer was somehow saved by Phoenix Rising FC keeper Josh Cohen, who finished with six saves.
One of those saves included a stop on Dane Kelly’s penalty kick in the 34th minute.
Reno’s chances continued into the second half with forward Brian Brown nearly converting as time ticked down in the match.
A short two-day reprieve leads into Reno’s home match with LA Galaxy 2 (3-10-2) on Monday night at Greater Nevada Field. The Galaxy 2 have dropped five of their last six.
First touch is at 7:30 p.m.