Photo courtesy of David Calvert / Reno 1868 FC
RENO, Nev. – With two star-powered sides tangling, some high-octane goal scoring was the anticipation going into Friday night’s clash between Phoenix Rising FC and host Reno 1868 FC at Greater Nevada Field. That wasn’t the case, however, as the two sides battled to a scoreless draw in front of an 1868 FC-record crowd of 7,092. It marked the first scoreless draw for both teams this season. Josh Cohen made six saves for Phoenix and his counterpart Matt Bersano made three saves for 1868 FC. Reno had entered the match having outscored its opponents by a combined 15-2 margin in the previous four home matches, all victories. Saturday’s match had a far different tone than the previous meeting, when Reno darted to a 4-0 victory – its first in club history – on May 6 in Phoenix. Reno moves to 6-4-4 (22 points) overall and 4-1-3 at home. Phoenix is now 5-5-3 (18 points) overall and 1-3-2 on the road.
#RNOvPHX: Full match and Opta box score
Three Things That Mattered:
1. The first major moment of the game occurred in the 35th minute when Dane Kelly had a chance to move into a tie for the league goal-scoring lead with a penalty kick attempt. Antoine Hoppenot drew a foul against Phoenix defender Kody Wakasa a yard or two in front of the six-yard area and Kelly stepped up to the spot. Rising FC’s Josh Cohen was zoned in as Kelly’s shot toward the lower left of the frame was stuffed by the Phoenix goalkeeper to keep the match scoreless.
2. Cohen was the man of the first 45 minutes, posting six saves during that stretch. In addition to the PK stop, Cohen’s biggest highlight was getting enough of a deflection on a beautifully struck long-distance shot by Darwin Espinal in the 44th minute. Espinal had the upper right corner picked out from well out, and Cohen got a glove on it as the ball caromed off of the frame. It was a promising moment out of the recent Reno signing and Honduras native, who had formerly been the No. 1 prospect in the Premier Development League after featuring for the South Florida Surf. Fans in attendance certainly were expecting some attack-heavy soccer; they got that from Reno, but the goals didn’t quite pan out in the first half thanks to Cohen’s efforts.
3. Much of Rising FC’s star power started the match on the bench with Omar Bravo and Shaun Wright-Phillips not in the starting 11. Bravo was brought into the match to start the second half to replace Jason Johnson, who Wright-Phillips got the call to replace Victor Vasquez in the 73rd minute. For whatever reason, the tenacity in the attack just wasn’t there, especially for Rising FC. Chances such as a 78th-minute opportunity – with Didier Drogba leading Wright-Phillips to an open channel on the right side – went awry as Wright-Phillips elected to pass when he had an opportunity to challenge the goal. Bravo’s 84th-minute free kick might have challenged the inside of the left post, and Matt Bersano alertly dove to his right to make sure the score stayed level.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:
Josh Cohen, Phoenix Rising FC – The Phoenix goalkeeper had a busy six-save first half and helped his side earn a clean sheet and a tough road point against Reno.
Reno 1868 FC at Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 – July 15, 6 p.m. ET, Thunderbird Stadium
Phoenix Rising FC at Orange County SC – July 8, 8 p.m. ET, Orange County Great Park