Although newcomers to USL, Reno 1868 FC will bring an experienced squad into Rio Tinto in search of their first ever point(s) on the road. After a scoreless 2-0 opening weekend loss at home to Orange County FC, coach Ian Russell’s squad rebounded to get a quick set-piece goal off a corner kick and tie 1-1 with Vancouver Whitecaps II last weekend.
Favoring a traditional 4-4-2 formation, Reno has three experienced forwards who have all had several successful professional seasons. Dane Kelly, a Jamaican who scored at Rio Tinto for the Charleston Battery in a 2013 US Open Cup match; Brian Brown, another Jamaican with years at Charlotte Independence and Philadelphia Union; and Mackensie Pridham, a Canadian with experience at Sacramento Republic and Whitecaps II.
Thanks to a two-year affiliation agreement with San Jose of MLS, their midfield features Jackson Yueill, a former teammate of Jose Hernandez at UCLA and the 6th pick in the recent 2017 MLS SuperDraft. Goalkeepers Andrew Tarbell and Matt Bersano, defender Kip Colvey, and midfielder Matheus Silva are other San Jose players who have appeared for Reno in their first two matches.
Jordan Murrell, a Canadian defender who was drafted by RSL and made 19 appearances for the Monarchs during their inaugural season in 2015 has been recovering for an injury he suffered late in training camp. An expected starter, he came on as a substitute in the 58’ minute last week and could see the field against the Monarchs.
As this is the first year for Reno 1868 FC, there have been no previous meetings of these two teams. As regional rivals, these teams will have three matches during the 2017 season. The first and second at Rio Tinto on Thursday and Monday, June 19th. The final match will be in Reno on Saturday, September 30th.
What to watch for
As Reno and Sandy are at very nearly the same elevation, the Monarchs will have no advantage playing at altitude like they did with Phoenix last week. It is still early in the season however, so conditioning and the timing of substitutions may easily play a role as the match progresses.
Expect the Monarchs to once again attempt to make defensive contact high up the field and rely upon the tandem of Charlie Adams and Sebastian Velasquez to connect between the back line with Nick Besler in front and the attacking threesome on the offensive side. The initial battle will be to see if Adams and Velasquez or Reno’s Burgos and Yueill have the most success in connecting their teams.
Injuries and players on loan from San Jose have led to a lot of rotation among the defensive line and goalkeepers of Reno, so they may lack the cohesion of the more settled defensive line of the Monarchs. Reno’s only goal and two of the Monarch’s goals have come from corner kicks so marking during set pieces will remain a high priority for both defenses.
If the Monarchs are able to continue the high defensive line seen in the first two matches and control the tandem forwards of Reno good things should once again happen. However, if the experience of Phoenix comes through and they are forced to defend more in depth against a direct central attack the outcome might be decided on a few plays.
Real Monarchs: (4-2-3-1) Fernandez; Curinga, Peay, Galllagher, Lachowecki; Besler, Adams; Brody, Velasquez, Minter; Hoffman
Reno 1868: (4-4-2): Bersano; Janjigian, Griffiths, Murrell, LaGrassa; Yueill, von Niederhausern, Burgos, Happenot; Kelly, Brown
When: Thursday, April 6, 7 p.m. (Mountain Time)
Where: Rio Tinto Stadium — Sandy, Utah
Weather: 63 degrees, Partly Cloudy