RENO, Nev. – It took a few months to get going, but Reno 1868 FC has become the most dangerous squad in both the USL and U.S. professional soccer.
Reno (7-4-4) has formed a core base of lethal attackers and a defensive back four that has defended home turf over the past few months.
Reno has not lost at Greater Nevada Field since March 25 and has posted five shutouts in the process.
So how did this expansion franchise turn into one of the top teams in the league in its inaugural season?
Here are a few reasons why:
Triple Threat Up Top
Not only does Reno have the USL’s all-time leading scorer (Dane Kelly) and Antoine Hoppenot (six goals, five assists and 30 chances created) up top at the forward position, they also have one of the top chance creators. Rookie Chris Wehan (three goals, seven assists, 38 chances created) has fed the Reno attack all season long with his playmaking skills. Wehan has meshed with Kelly and Hoppenot to create a combination that is hard to stop in the final third.
While a majority of Reno’s attack is comprised of players that have been with the club since its inception, a number of newcomers have recently contributed to Reno’s incredible run. Guys like Luis Felipe (two goals) and Darwin Espinal (one goal) who have been with the club for less than two months are already starting to cement their footprints.
Although Reno typically has a new guy each weekend, each of them have contributed in big ways. San Jose Earthquakes draftees Matt Bersano (six clean sheets) and Andrew Tarbell (one clean sheet) have Reno in the Top 5 for clean sheets this year. Even in the matches that Reno has ended up conceding a goal, the goalkeeping has not fully broken down.