RENO, Nev.– After Saturday’s home loss to San Antonio FC, Reno 1868 FC heads to Phoenix, Ariz. For Friday’s showdown with first-place Phoenix Rising FC. Phoenix leads the league with a record of 15-2-5 and 50 points. Reno is right behind them in the Western Conference standings, owning a record of 13-6-5 with 44 points. Phoenix is riding a historic 13-match winning streak.
“They’re probably the top team in the league right now,” said head coach Ian Russell. “They’re scoring a lot of goals and have a lot of good players. We’re a good road team and we’re looking forward to it.”
Leading the way for Phoenix is Solomon Asante. The 28 year old currently leads the league in both goals and assists with 16 and 11, respectively. Phoenix leads the league in goals as a team as well with 58. Not far behind them is Reno, in third with 51.
This will be the second time this season these two teams have faced each other. Phoenix came out on top in Reno on June 18. Despite the 3-0 final score, it was a closely contested match that saw Reno outshoot Phoenix 18-4 in the first half, including five on target. Phoenix scored in the seventh minute, and would leave the first half up 1-0.
In the second half, Phoenix would outshoot Reno 14-4 and score twice to make the final 3-0.
“In the first half I thought we played really well,” Russel said in Junel. “We created a bunch of really good chances. We should’ve scored goals in the first half.”
Since June’s matchup, both teams have solidified their positions in the USL’s top tier. Reno’s 44 points have the boys in blue in second place, with Fresno one point behind.
Reno has yet to lose back-to-back matches this season, going 4-0-1 in matches immediately following a loss. In the team’s three-year history, Los Azules have lost two in a row just four times, most recently in August and June of 2018. At the time of kickoff on Friday, it will have been 373 days since Reno lost two in a row.
“Phoenix will be a tough one. But this is a resilient group and we’ll be up for the challenge,” said Russell. “We’ll try to get after it.”
Reno enters the game 6-4-2 on the road, while Phoenix is 8-0-3 at home. 1868 FC has yet to lose to Phoenix on the road, going 1-0-1. Reno won 4-0 in Arizona in 2017, and the teams drew 0-0 last October.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. PT from Casino Arizona Field in Phoenix. The match’s live stream is available on ESPN+.