RENO, Nev. – Reno 1868 FC retained its five-point lead at the top of Group A as it played to a 1-1 draw with Sacramento Republic FC on Saturday night at Greater Nevada Field. The result left 1868 FC two points away from clinching the group with two games remaining in its final week of the regular season.
Neither side was able to create much in attack in the early going as the game took time to settle, and it wasn’t until past the half-hour mark that the first real threat on goal arrived. A corner kick from the right by Sacramento’s Rodrigo Lopez found Tomas Hilliard-Arce near the top of the six-yard area, but the center back was unable to direct his header on target.
Reno grabbed the lead late in the first half, however, as Brent Richards began and finished a move for the hosts. The 1868 FC captain began the play on the right flank as he sent a pass in to Tucker Bone in the right side of the penalty area, and then looped into the box himself. Bone created space for a chipped cross to the back post that found Christiano Francois, and the Haitian’s header across the six-yard area was met by Richards, who headed into the right corner of the net.
Sacramento came out more brightly to start the second half after the introduction on Villyan Bijev as a substitute, and he almost made an immediate impact in the 50th minute as he cut through a pair of defenders at the top-right edge of the penalty area, received a layoff from Hilliard-Arce, but then had his shot denied by Reno goalkeeper Ben Beaury.
Republic FC hit back two minutes later, however, as a corner kick from the right by Juan Barahone found Dekel Keinan for a header near the penalty spot that found the top-right corner of the net, flying too high for the defender guarding the right post to keep out.
Reno quickly tried to hit back, and Francois almost connected on an ambitious finish from 35 yards that curled toward the top-right corner of the net but clipped the top of the crossbar and went behind for a goal kick. Francois also had a tamer effort with 15 minutes to go that was comfortably saved by Republic FC goalkeeper Rafael Diaz.
Both sides went in pursuit of all three points as the second half began to wind down, but Republic FC marginally went closer to a winner. With 11 minutes to go Jaime Villarreal forced a save from Beaury on a shot from 20 yards toward the right corner, and then Frank Lopez had a shot from the right side of the penalty area that was also kept out. Despite its late pressure, though, Sacramento was unable to find a winner and unable to cut into the gap between itself and Reno at the top of the group standings.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Dekel Keinan, Sacramento Republic FC – Keinan scored the game-tying goal for the visitors and was strong defensively, winning 10 of 11 duels and 6 of 6 aerial duels while completing 27 of 33 passes.