Reno fails to build cushion in compact Western Conference
Saturday night’s match between Reno 1868 FC and Portland Timbers 2 was not one the local sided absolutely needed to win. It was, however, a match Reno should have taken three points from.
Playing at home (where Reno is inbeaten in its last nine), against the last-place team in the Western Conference (Portland is winless in its last 13), before a tough three-game road trip, a discouraging night resulted in a 1-1 draw in front of 6,027 at Greater Nevada Field. It was Reno’s third tie in four games.
“It was frustrating,” said midfielder Seth Casiple, who was responsible for Reno’s only goal. “You want to defend your home turf. But in the end, it’s positive that we earned a point.”
A relentless offensive barrage resulted in 58 percent of the possession and 28 shots for Reno – opposed to Portland’s 10 – only for the frame to remain elusive. Just eight of the 28 attempts were on target as promising looks routinely sailed two or three feet wide of either post, or north of the crossbar.
“You know I thought we played pretty well. We didn’t get the result we wanted, but we had 28 shots tonight,” Reno head coach Ian Russell said. “I think we need a little more focus in training to clean things up.”
The result kept Reno (7-4-6) in fourth place in the crowded Western Conference standings with 27 points, leaving seven teams just five points back.
Portland (1-15-3) picked up just its sixth point of the season.
It was the second-straight game Reno conceded a late equalizer in a 1-1 draw. Allowing late goals was also a problem for the team early in the season. Last Saturday, Vancouver scored late to steal away two points from Reno. This week, Portland’s Gio Calixtro knotted things up with seven minutes left in regulation.
“We just have to work harder at practice and clean up our mistakes,” midfielder Luis Felipe said.
The match as a whole was so baffling for Reno, that it needed help on its lone goal of the night. In the 71st minute, Casiple sent a ball towards the frame from nine yards and out and keeper Kendall McIntosh – playing his best game of the season – dove right. The shot deflected off a Portland defender and gave McIntosh no chance, sliding inside the near post for an own goal.
Casiple was credited with his third tally of the season and USL Midseason Rookie of the Year, Chris Wehan, was given his eighth assist.
Reno entered the week as the USL’s leader in goals scored, but Saturday night was the third-straight game the offense struggled following a historic 9-0 beatdown of Los Angeles at Greater Nevada Field. It was blanked 5-0 in an international friendly loss to Atlas, then managed just one goal apiece against Vancouver and Portland. Only three teams in the 30-team USL have allowed more goals than Portland this season.
In an otherwise difficult match, the moment of the night came at halftime as midfielder Matheus Silva returned to Greater Nevada Field for the first time since he was pulled from Lake Tahoe on the morning of July Fourth without a pulse. He was greeted with a standing ovation.
Those who helped pull Silva from the lake, and rushed him to the hospital where he remained in a coma for two days, were also recognized.
“I thought it was great,” Russell said. “He’s been working out with us the past couple of days. He’s wanted to come back and play soccer ever since he was in the hospital. It was great to see him out there with the people who helped save his life.”
Reno starts its upcoming road trip next Saturday afternoon at second-place Swope Park. The Rangers (12-4-2) are winners of their last seven and are amidst a seven-game winning streak as well as a 10-game unbeaten streak.
Reno does not return home until Aug. 12 when it will play San Antonio FC.