RENO, Nev. – Reno 1868 FC became the first side to hand New Mexico United a defeat in its inaugural USL Championship season on Saturday night thanks to Duke Lacroix’s late winner in a 2-1 victory at Greater Nevada Field. Here are three takeaways from the contest.
LATE-GAME TURNAROUND: Previously this season for Reno 1868 FC, when goals have arrived inside the final two minutes of the game it hasn’t been good news. On Saturday night, though, Duke Lacroix’s beautifully taken 89th-minute strike lifted the hosts into the top three of the Western Conference standings. The left back read the play perfectly as he dropped a header from the flank into Brian Brown near the top corner of the penalty area, and the Jamaican forward was on exactly the same wavelength as his pass gave the cutting Lacroix the yard of space he needed to squeeze a finish into the top-right corner of the net. After this season’s previous disappointments, this was a fine measure of redemption for Head Coach Ian Russell’s side.
WORKING FOR THE CLAMPDOWN: Lacroix had a bigger role to play on the night in helping keep New Mexico’s attack in check, especially given he was faced with the challenge of squaring off with Santi Moar for much of the evening. Switched predominantly to the right side against Reno, however, Moar had one of the quieter nights of his thrilling season so far as the connection with Manny Padilla didn’t seem to quite come off as successfully as it had on the left with Josh Suggs in previous outings. Moar wasn’t poor by any means, but with only one shot on goal and one key pass Reno did an effective job of keeping the standout winger in check that played a decisive role in 1868 FC’s victory.
END OF THE RUN: With Saturday’s defeat, New Mexico’s longest undefeated run to open an expansion season came to an end, and there will be moments United will look back on wondering what might have been. At the top of the list is Chris Wehan’s early miss that saw him shoot wide on the rebound of Kevaughn Frater’s initial shot after stealing in on the right side of the penalty area to corral the chance. In the second half, though, there just wasn’t quite enough creativity in the final third as United recorded only four shots and two key passes in the face of some strong defensive work by Reno’s holding midfielders and back line.