In what was sure to be a tough match, New Mexico United (3-1-4) came up short and suffered their first loss of the season in Reno on Saturday night. Despite their match results so far, Reno 1868 FC (3-1-3) have one of the better defensive units in the league, and their ability was readily apparent throughout the night.
United controlled the run of play from the start, with Chris Wehan looking to make an early impact in his return to Reno. Wehan nearly put the visitors up early, with multiple shots in the 10th and 12th minutes. His first was saved by Reno keeper JT Marcinkowski, and the latter missed just wide as Wehan fired from inside the goal area. As time passed, Reno began to show signs of growing into the match and were able to put some real pressure on the New Mexico defense.
The hosts would strike first as former Albuquerque Sol member Sergio Rivas would find the back of the net. Rivas collected a pass from Corey Hertzog and fired a right footed shot past the outstretched arms of United keeper, Cody Mizell. 1868 had found their footing and would make their presence felt throughout the rest of the match.
New Mexico United captain Josh Suggs would level the score in the 38th after a pass from Juan Guzmán had him streaking towards the goal. Although it won’t go down in the books as a recorded assist, Wehan played an integral part in causing the play to happen. As Suggs was racing down the middle of the pitch, Wehan made a crossing run in front of Suggs. His run caused the defenders to follow him and left the top of the box wide open for Suggs. Josh was then able to take advantage of the open space and caromed his shot off the crossbar and into the net.
As the match headed to the half, the first of several questionable decisions by the referee occurred. After Kevaugn Frater was fouled in stoppage time, Reno defenders Duke Lacroix and Emrah Klimenta prevented play from being restarted. Neither player received a caution for their actions.
United Coach Troy Lesesne made a change coming out of the locker room for the second half as Sam Hamilton replaced Toni Soler. Neither club was able to put together a serious threat as each side settled in. Devon Sandoval made an appearance as a sub for the second straight week in the 65th, and United’s tactics changed to playing more direct. Sandoval made an immediate impact as he quickly put pressure onto Marcinkowski and nearly intercepted a poor back pass.
Santi Moar received a yellow card in the 67th for dissent after arguing another missed foul. Will Seymore, who had intentionally shoved Moar in the back, did not receive a caution. Moar took exception to this, and it was he who received a yellow card instead.
The hosts came close to pulling ahead in the 74th when two consecutive shots bounced off the crossbar. United’s luck would not last, however. As time wound down in regulation, a cross from Seymore was gathered by Lacroix and played on to Brian Brown. Brown would return the ball to a crossing Lacroix who was able to place a right footed shot past Mizell to put Reno up for good, 2-1. The goal was not without controversy. It appeared that the referee missed another call, this one a handball against Brown. In the process of receiving the pass, Brown appeared to intentionally play the ball with his arm, which should have resulted in a foul being called. Since VAR is not used in the USL, the run of play could not be reviewed.
Both clubs had very sloppy runs of play at times. With incomplete or intercepted passes being very common throughout the match, both sides have things to work on before their next matches.
Man of the Match:
Josh Suggs – The club captain put together a very impressive performance on the night. Josh had four tackles, one block, one interception and his first goal of the season.
With the visa issues being cleared up, Ethen Sampson, Daniel Bruce, and Ken Akamatsu were all in the 18 man squad for the match tonight.
Ken made his professional debut, subbing on for Moar.
New Mexico United return home to face Portland Timbers 2 with first place on the line on Friday, April 26 at 7:30 pm.
(Image credit: Nevada SportsNet)