Reno 1868 steams forward in first round playoff win with fans in stadium
RENO – Reno 1868 dominated in its first home playoff win in the United Soccer League (USL) Championship quarterfinal Saturday night by a commanding 4-1 score against the L.A. Galaxy II as fans looked on from stadium seats for the first time since the season opener in February.
Reno’s second goal in the 35th minute was the deciding factor of the match. The goal started from a goal kick and was carried down the middle of the field by forward Corey Hertzog. Hertzog gave the ball off to Foster Langsdorf and ran toward the L.A. box as Langsdorf passed the ball over to Christian François. François passed the ball back to Hertzog at the end of his run outside the box. Hertzog finished the team goal, placing a shot into the bottom left corner.
“You draw that up on a board,” said head coach Ian Russell on the crucial goal. The goal went unanswered as Reno brought on two more goals to finish out the match.
Reno’s first goal came early from midfielder Kevin Partida in his hometown stadium. In just the fourth minute, Partida intercepted a pass from a goal kick off of an L.A. defender to put him one-on-one with L.A. goalkeeper Abraham Romero. Partida then clinically placed a shot past Romero into the bottom right corner to put Reno up 1-0.
L.A. answered Reno’s first goal quickly, scoring in the 10th minute. L.A. defender Mauricio Cuevas crossed the ball into the box on a free kick from the left corner of the field in Reno’s half, which was headed in by defender Jalen Neal.
Reno’s next two goals solidified the first round victory. Reno’s third goal came in the 53rd minute on a counterattack, as midfielder Sergio Rivas intercepted a pass in Reno’s half and gave the ball to Partida. Partida brought the ball up the middle to Hertzog, who sent a through ball to Lansgdorf, finishing the attack off by lofting a shot over the keeper and into the left corner.
Reno’s fourth and final goal was scored on a penalty given off of a foul by Romero. Hertzog stepped in to take the shot and put the ball into the left corner to get his second goal of the game.
The match was the first time Reno had played in front of fans at home since restrictions for COVID-19 were implemented. Although only 250 fans were allowed in attendance, the team appreciated the atmosphere created by the return.
“It was loud,” added Russell. “It drove us on and gave us some life.”
A dominant performance for Reno was not only portrayed by the score. Reno owned possession of the ball for almost 60% of the first half and 56% of the entire game. The team completed 83% of their passes and created 19 shots, 12 of which were on goal. Hertzog said, “We were just finding each other,” when asked about the team’s performance. In contrast, L.A. had seven shots, putting two on goal and had nearly 100 less passes than Reno.
The first round win puts Reno through to the USL Western Conference Semifinals. The team will enjoy home field advantage once again Oct. 17 as it takes on Phoenix Rising FC, who topped USL Championship Group B with a record of 11-3-2.