TACOMA, Wash. – Reno 1868 FC rallied from a first-half deficit to remain in position to end with the best record in the Championship’s regular season after a 2-1 victory against Tacoma Defiance on Saturday night at Cheney Stadium. San Antonio FC would need to claim victory by a six-goal margin against Austin Bold FC on Sunday evening to pass Reno on goal differential to claim homefield advantage throughout the 2020 USL Championship Playoffs.
1868 FC received an early scare in just the eighth minute as a heavy touch in his own penalty area by Ben Beaury handed possession to Tacoma’s Ethan Dobbelaere, who quickly found Alec Diaz in position to shoot. Diaz fired toward the right corner with Beaury stranded, but Reno defender Jared Trimmer slid in to clear the ball to safety with a brilliant block.
The hosts took the lead in the 17th minute, however, as Danny Reynolds sent Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez into the center of the field with a throw from the left, and Ocampo-Chavez continued to drift to his right before firing a low shot from 25 yards into the bottom-left corner of the net.
Reno almost answered immediately as Corey Hertzog found the target with a finish off a free kick by Christiano Francois, only for Tacoma goalkeeper Eric Klenofsky. Another set piece provided the equalizer for 1868 FC, however, as a corner kick from the right by Sergio Rivas wasn’t dealt with well by the Tacoma defense and fell for Brent Richards to finish as he darted in from the right flank to score from close range.
Hertzog threatened again with a flicked header of another free kick by Francois late in the first half, and then Foster Langsdorf sent a header wide soon after the break off a cross from Richards on the right as the visitors looked to gain the upper hand. Klenofsky was then called on to make a big save on a creative volleyed finish by Hertzog in the 50th minute.
Reno was given a big chance to take the lead in the 57th minute as Francois outpaced Tacoma defender Antonee Burke-Gilroy on the left side and was brought down just inside the left edge of the penalty area. Langsdorf stepped up to the spot, but Klenofsky went the right way as the low shot went toward the left corner and was able to parry the effort away.
Langsdorf made amends for his miss five minutes later, though, as a clever combination saw Rivas play to Tucker Bone at the edge of the penalty area for a flicked pass to Francois in the left side of the area. The Haitian international threaded his low cross through the six-yard area where Langsdorf was waiting for a tap-in finish.
Reno almost added a third with nine minutes to go as Ben Kikanovic broke forward on the counterattack into the right side of the penalty area and fired low to the left corner only to see his shot come back off the post. Tacoma’s Reynolds then went close to a late equalizer as his long-range shot was deflected just over the crossbar with five minutes to go. The Defiance continue to press late, and Beaury had to make a big save to keep out Danny Robles’ free kick in the first minute of stoppage time. That would be the final chance for the hosts, though, as Reno saw out an important win.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Christiano Francois, Reno 1868 FC – Francois provided energy on the flanks for the visitors throughout, recording the assist on the winning goal, being brought down for a penalty kick and recording three key passes overall.