RENO, Nevada – Reno 1868 FC clinched its fourth consecutive trip to the USL Championship Playoffs with a 3-2 victory against Tacoma Defiance on Wednesday night at Greater Nevada Field. The victory moved Reno three points clear of Sacramento Republic FC in the Group A standings with four games remaining for both clubs in the regular season.
The hosts jumped out to an early lead in just the fifth minute as Christiano Francois attacked up the left flank and tried to deliver a low cross to the near post. The ball deflected off a defender looking to intercept, but caromed kindly in the direction of Sam Gleadle, who hit a low, first-time shot from 12 yards into the bottom-left corner of the net.
Tacoma almost hit back immediately as Marlon Vargas was played into pace on the left side by Taylor Mueller and then cut back inside onto his right foot for a curling shot to the far post that was turned away by 1868 FC goalkeeper Ben Beaury. Reno also threatened in the 18th minute as Corey Hertzog was played in on goal after a poor midfield giveaway, but Tacoma goalkeeper Eric Klenofsky make a big save to deny him.
Reno continued to threaten, and in the 21st minute a free kick by Francois from the left fell to Foster Langsdorf at the far post, only for Klenofsky to close down and turn his shot aside. Three minutes later Francois went close himself with a shot from the top-left edge of the penalty area that Klenofsky palmed over the crossbar.
Tacoma almost struck early in the second half when Ray Serrano got into the left side of the penalty area, drawing Beaury off his line, but after Serrano circled back to find space for a shot his effort beat Beaury but was cleared off the line by former Defiance defender Tony Alfaro.
Serrano also threatened again in the 52nd minute with a long-range effort that was smothered by Beaury, but Reno immediately went up to the other end of the field and doubled its lead. After Bone cut in from the right channel, his attempt to center was intercepted but the ball came straight to Emilio Ycaza, who took a touch to control and then curled home a brilliant finish from 25 yards into the top-right corner of the net.
The Defiance answered immediately as in the 55th minute Abdoulaye Cissoko rose highest and beat Beaury as he came off his line to get on the end of a free kick from the left by Christopher Hegardt and headed into the left corner of the net. Just as quickly, though, 1868 FC restored its two-goal lead as Ycaza added an assist to his earlier goal as he helped turn over possession in the Tacoma half before sliding a pass to Foster Langsdorf for a turning shot into the right corner.
Tacoma made it a one-goal game again with 15 minutes to go, however, as Alec Diaz picked up possession in the right channel and fired a low shot to the left corner of the net. Beaury made a low save to keep out the shot, but the rebound fell to Serrano as he crashed toward the net for a first-time finish into the open goal.
Reno went close with seven minutes to go as Jesus Enriquez fired a low shot to the bottom-right corner that Klenofsky turned wide for a corner. Tacoma was unable to muster a final big chance to equalize, though, as 1868 FC salted away the remaining minutes to see out an important victory with a playoff place now in hand.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Emilio Ycaza, Reno 1868 FC – Ycaza scored a beautiful goal for his first as a professional, also added an assist and completed 39 of 43 passes overall in a strong midfield display for the hosts.