Photo courtesy Charis Wilson / Seattle Sounders FC 2
TACOMA, Wash. – Fresno FC took its first victory in the USL as Jemal Johnson’s late goal earned a 1-0 victory against Seattle Sounders FC 2 on Wednesday night at Cheney Stadium. Fresno almost took the lead in the 11th minute when Noah Verhoeven timed his run perfectly to beat the back line on Christian Cheney’s through-ball but put his finish off the crossbar. S2’s biggest chance of the first half arrived in the 33rd minute when high pressure put Felix Chenkam in on goal alone, but his low finish went just wide of the left post. Nick Hinds also went close early in the second half for Seattle as he forced a good save from Foxes goalkeeper Kyle Reynish. S2’s David Olsen was also denied just before the hour-mark after being slipped into the penalty area cleverly by Hinds, while Fresno forced a low save by S2 goalkeeper Bryan Meredith on a flicked header by Juan Pablo Caffa with 12 minutes to go. The Foxes struck with eight minutes to go, however, as Johnson was left alone in the penalty area to head home Zach Ellis-Hayden’s cross from the right to lift the visitors into the lead. S2 almost hit back immediately as a long-range effort by Shandon Hopeau came back off the crossbar, while Reynish also produced a good save to deny Hopeau in stoppage time. Fresno held on, though, on a historic night for the club.
82’ – FRS – Jemal Johnson (Zach Ellis-Hayden)
Three Things That Matter:
1. Fresno spoke before the game about its desire to be aggressive offensively in its first road game of the season and that was rewarded with eight minutes to go through Jemal Johnson’s goal that earned the Foxes their first victory. A well-worked move that moved quickly from the left flank to the right opened space for Zach Ellis-Hayden to deliver a perfect cross for Johnson to head beyond the reach of S2 goalkeeper Bryan Meredith and earn a big three points for the visitors.
2. Seattle produced enough chances to lead before Fresno took the lead and will look back on those opportunities disappointed not to have taken advantage. A breakaway chance forced in the first half that was squandered by Felix Chenkam’s errant finish was maybe the biggest for the hosts on the night, while a pair of big saves by S2 goalkeeper Kyle Reynish early in the second half on Nick Hinds and David Olsen helped keep the visitors on level terms and in with a chance of a victory they grabbed late on.
3. The Foxes looked closer to a side that could contend for a place in the playoffs on Wednesday night in a game that either side could have taken maximum points from. Picking up a solid road victory as the club’s first in the league will add to the confidence the side is feeling right now, though, and going back to Chukchansi Park on Saturday to host an OKC Energy FC that fell earlier on Wednesday night there should be optimism in the camp that there’s more to come.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Kyle Reynish, Fresno FC – Reynish recorded a seven-save shutout, making crucial stops before and after Jemal Johnson’s goal, to earn the Foxes victory on the road.
Seattle Sounders FC 2 at Sacramento Republic FC – April 7, 10:30 p.m. ET, Papa Murphy’s Park
Fresno FC vs. OKC Energy FC – March 31, 10 p.m. ET, Chukchansi Park