The backline of Seattle Sounders FC 2 got off to a rough start against Reno 1868. Fransisco Narbon and Waylon Francis in particular began the game undisciplined positionally which allowed Reno to slice through the S2 defense with ease for the opening 30 minutes.
Reno should have opened the scoring in the 5’ when Antione Hoppenot got in behind the defense and in miles of space whiffed from 5 yards out on a solid early cross sent in from the left side. Despite the poor defense S2 also got an early chance when Denso Ulysse sent in an excellent cross in the 10’. David Estrada cleverly dummied the ball and let it run to Lamar Neagle who was unable to bend it around an onrushing Reno defender who was able to block the shot.
Reno got a few more chances over the next few minutes but than inexplicably took their foot off the gas which allowed S2 to guard their struggling defense with long stretches of easy, though unthreatening possession. S2 had possession in the middle third for nearly the whole of the final 25 minutes of the first half.
Some Reno subs at halftime returned the bite to their offense and they again exploited the struggling backline in the 54’. Narbon made an ill advised run forward with the ball which left the S2 backline flailing when he was dispossessed and left out of position. Reno attacked with numbers and only a heroic diving block from Ulysse kept Reno from scoring the games first goal on a wide open shot from about 12 yards out. The reprieve provided by Ulysse was short lived though.
Reno scored the games opening goal off of a spectacular piece of individual work from Jerry van Ewijk. From just outside the area van Ewijk popped the ball up in the air for himself and hit a solid volley past Calle Brown to make the score 1-0 Reno.
Immediately after the goal Felix Chenkam came in for Lamar Neagle and completely changed the S2 offense. Chenkam’s hold up play allowed S2 to turn their possession advantage into scoring chances by moving the focal point of the attack deeper into the Reno half.
In the 71’ Chenkam almost scored off a corner but his volley was just saved. On the resulting corner kick S2 were able to get the equalizing goal though. Off the corner the ball bounced out to the top of the box where Jesse Daley was able to beat Reno to the ball and send in a looping ball towards the back post. David Estrada was waiting in the right spot and was able to head the floating ball just inside the near post to make it 1-1.
After the goal S2 closed up shop a bit, clearly satisfied with a tough road point from a game where they did not play their best. Reno threatened a little in the closing minutes but were unable to beat a compact S2 defense in the final 20 minutes.
This was the kind of game S2 usually lose in the final minutes, but if they can continue to close out games like they did this one, especially on the road, they may have a chance at the playoffs this year.