Sacramento Republic FC blew a chance to continue its relatively decent run of recent form in Reno Saturday night. Prior to the team’s 2-0 loss, it had gone undefeated for five games. Unfortunately for the many Republic fans in attendance, that streak was not meant to extend to six. Goals from Reno’s impressive strike force of Antoine Hoppenot and Dane Kelly lifted the home side to victory.
Unlike the previous time these two teams faced off, Reno had USL all-time leading goalscorer Dane Kelly in the lineup. Prior to tonight’s match Kelly had a league-high 11 goals. His presence made the already threatening Reno attack even more dangerous.
The first fifteen minutes of play were reminiscent of the prior USOC meeting between Reno and Republic. Both teams pressed forward aggressively, with Republic attacking up the wings and Reno focusing on the middle. Hard tackles were common on both sides.
Republic’s Tyler Blackwood had the first significant chance of the match in the fourth minute.
James Kiffe sent a long ball over the top of Reno’s backline right into Blackwood’s stride. Unfortunately for Republic and the large contingent of the Tower Bridge Battalion, Reno’s goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell cut out the danger.
Republic center back Julius James received the first yellow card of the match fairly early in the game in the 14th minute.
Jordan Morrel had Reno’s first chance of the match in the 19th minute, but his shot wound up closer to the moon than the back of Evan Newton’s net.
Former Republic midfielder Matt LaGrassa had a shot from distance for Reno, but Evan Newton had little difficulty in making the save. Although the shot was LaGrassa’s first offensive action, he was very active defensively in the midfield though the first half hour and put in more than his fair share of crunchy challenges.
Reno had a free kick in a dangerous area in the 35th minute, but Newton did well to punch the ball away.
Reno’s Antoine Hoppenot scored the first goal of the match in the 39th minute, giving the home side a 1-0 lead.
Kelly found Hoppenot with an excellent through ball into the Republic penalty area. Chris Christian attempted a slide tackle in the box but was unable to dispossess Hoppenot, whose shot barely evaded Newton.
Reno had a chance to double the lead near the end of the half, but made a mess of the opportunity.
Despite having played a fairly decent first half, Republic went into the locker room down a goal.
First Half Stats
Sacramento Republic FC: 0 goals, 2 shots, 1 shot on target, 77% passing accuracy (65 in opponents’ half), 54% possession, 2 offside, 3 corners.
Reno 1868 FC: 1 goal, 7 shots, 2 shots on target, 80% passing accuracy (68% in opponents’ half), 46% possession, 0 offside, 2 corners.
Sammy Ochoa nearly had an equalizer for Republic in the 47th minute, but although he came close, he failed to redirect Elliott Hord’s cross into the back of the net.
The home side had an excellent chance to double their lead with a clever counter, but the shot went out for a Republic goal kick.
Paul Buckle made his first substitution of the night in the 55th minute, bringing on Christian Chaney for Harry Williams. Chaney saw his first minutes with Republic in a cameo in last week’s scoreless draw with RGVFC. He impressed in those limited minutes and Buckle was obviously hoping he would be able to find the back of the net.
Agustin Cazarez had an excellent opportunity to level things for Republic in the 59th minute, but Reno’s Tarbell was able to get his body in front of the shot.
Reno’s Dane Kelly doubled the home side’s lead in the 73rd minute of the match, his 60th career USL goal.
Republic’s defense gave Kelly a dangerous amount of space near the top of the box and he took advantage of it with a superb shot from distance that Evan Newton was unable to stop.
James Kiffe had a good chance to get a goal back for Republic in the 75th minute, but he was unable to convert.
Buckle made another attacking-minded substitution in the 79th minute, bringing on Trevin Caesar for Julius James, going all out to try and salvage something from the match.
He made another substitution on the 84th minute, bringing on Adam Moffat for Agustin Cazarez.
Despite Republic’s best efforts to get something out of the match, Reno’s defense held strong and preserved its well deserved shutout victory.
The final whistle blew after three minutes of second half stoppage time, hanging Republic a harsh 2-0 loss.
Republic are next in action next Wednesday, June 14 against Real Salt Lake in US Open Cup play. The team is then back in action in USL play Saturday June 17th at home against Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2.
How do you think tonight’s match went? Sound off in the comments below.