Defense blanks third straight opponent, offense nets 14th goal in three matches
Summer weather has made its way to Northern Nevada, but a deluge continues to pound Greater Nevada Field.
Reno 1868 FC (3-3-2) rolled Tulsa Roughnecks FC 4-0 on Wednesday night in front of 4,418 for its third straight USL win, its fourth overall. During the three-match streak, Reno has outscored Phoenix, Seattle and Tulsa (4-5-0) by an aggregate score of 14-0.
“This is massive,” defender and team captain Jimmy Ockford said. “Especially because that makes it four (wins) in a row now. This is great for our mental confidence.”
Greater Nevada Field’s newest tenant has jumped from 15th place in the Western Conference to ninth (top eight teams advance to postseason) and now owns the third-best goal differential in the conference (+6). Reno’s 20 goals this season are tied for the second-most in the 30-team USL.
Fresh off becoming the first player in league history to net consecutive hat tricks and garnering USL Player of the Week accolades, forward Dane Kelly finished an initially blocked shot early in the second half for his seventh goal in three matches.
Kelly’s tally put Reno in front 2-0.
“He’s a goal scorer,” Reno coach Ian Russell said. “He has pace and he’s really starting to hold the ball better. I think that was one of his deficiencies early on. But he’s getting better at that and he’s finishing chances.”
Ockford began Reno’s barrage of goals with a header in the 42nd minute off an assist by forward Chris Wehan.
“It was a perfect service in from Chris Wehan,” Ockford said. “With that pass being right on the money, I was just in the right spot and put it in the goal.”
Midfielder Lindo Mfecka made it 3-0 in the 63rd minute off of a beautiful left-footed shot that ricocheted into the nylon off the far post.
Four minutes later, forward Antoine Hoppenot converted another chance for Reno after Wehan’s second assist of the match to put Reno up 4-0.
The barrage of goals has overshadowed stellar play from the defensive line, the weakness of the team early in the season. Due in part to injuries, Reno allowed 11 goals over a three-match span. A bye week before the match at Phoenix allowed the group to lick its wounds, and it’s pitched three-straight shutouts since.
“We have some continuity back there,” Russell said. “Earlier in the season we were throwing guys back there because we had no healthy bodies. They are getting used to each other right now.”
The club has a quick turnaround ahead of Saturday’s away match at Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC. Colorado Springs (3-4-4) sits in sixth place, two points ahead of Reno, and has dropped its last two.
First touch is at 5 p.m.