Photo courtesy of Michael Rincon / Phoenix Rising FC
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – It was only a matter of time for expansion Reno 1868 FC to find its first victory. In front of a Phoenix Rising FC crowd of 6,067 hoping to see the debut of former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, it was the opposing team’s striker that stole the show. USL all-time goal scoring leader Dane Kelly provided some early fireworks and eventually notched a hat trick to lead Reno to a 4-0 victory against Phoenix on Saturday at Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex. Chris Wehan added a tally in the 77th minute for his first professional goal. The game also marked the debut of Rising FC Interim Head Coach Rick Schantz, who took over for Frank Yallop who resigned to spend more time with his family in California. Schantz’s 18 did not include Drogba, whose USL debut will have to wait another day. Reno improves to 1-3-2 (5 points) overall and 1-2-0 on the road. Phoenix falls to 2-3-0 (6 points) overall) and 2-2-0 at home.
2’ – RNO – Dane Kelly (Chris Wehan)
6’ – RNO – Dane Kelly (Brian Brown)
63’ – RNO – Dane Kelly (Lindo Mfeka)
77’ – RNO – Chris Wehan (Lindo Mfeka)
#PHXvRNO: Full match and Opta box score
Three Things That Mattered:
1. Reno’s first signing stepped up in a big way Saturday as Dane Kelly, the league’s all-time goal scoring leader, netted his 51st through 53rd career goals against Phoenix. Kelly now has five goals this season. In just the second minute, 1868 FC goalkeeper Matt Bersano played the ball deep and Chris Wehan eventually got a touch from the left side to Kelly. Kelly did the rest, chesting the ball down, darting toward the goal and striking from 23 yards out, finding the lower left corner of the frame. Then in the sixth minute on the counter attack, Brian Brown crossed in from the right and Kelly fired a left-footed shot from 17 yards to the right of the frame for a quick two-goal advantage. It stayed that way until the 63rd minute as Kelly’s change of direction created enough of a gap to fire a shot that caromed off of the inside of the far right post and over the goal line for the hat trick.
2. The defensive stance of the match came at the tail end of the first half. Kelly was in prime position to notch his third goal with some wide open space in front of him in the 45th minute. Kelly’s initial shot was saved by Rising FC goalkeeper Josh Cohen. The rebound quickly popped back to Kelly, who looked to have an open net in front of him with Cohen out of position. Kelly shot right-footed again and veteran defender Jordan Stewart stepped up with a massive block to keep Phoenix’s deficit at two.
3. For touting so much experience, Rising FC’s offense just had no response to counter Kelly’s performance. The big-name Phoenix attacking players such as Omar Bravo and Shaun Wright-Phillips continue their campaign without a goal. Chances were there for the group as a whole, though. Chris Cortez skied a close-range shot well over the crossbar in the 17th minute. Alessandro Riggi hit a flush 22-yard shot in the 39th minute as Bersano got low to his right for the save.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:
Dane Kelly, Reno 1868 FC – Kelly’s hat trick fueled Reno to the organization’s first USL victory.
Phoenix Rising FC vs. OKC Energy FC – May 13, 10:30 p.m. ET, Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex
Reno 1868 FC vs. Seattle Sounders FC 2 – May 20, 10:30 p.m. ET, Greater Nevada Field