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Reno Clinches Place in Postseason

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 09/21/17, 12:06AM EDT


Mfeka’s hat trick leads side past Energy FC; Reno sets scoring record

Photo courtesy David Calvert / Reno 1868 FC

RENO, Nev. – Reno 1868 FC claimed its place in the 2017 USL Cup Playoffs as Lindo Mfeka scored the third hat trick in club history to lead the side to a 3-0 win against OKC Energy FC in front of 6,001 fans at Greater Nevada Field on Wednesday night. OKC almost found an opening on the counter-attack in the third minute only for Jonathan Brown’s chance to be blocked and cleared, but Reno created more chances early in rainy conditions. Jordan Murrell put a header wide for the hosts in the 10th minute, and Antonio Hoppenot fired just over the crossbar six minutes later from the edge of the penalty area. 1868 FC took the lead in the 18th minute, however, as Lindo Mfeka took advantage of a defensive giveaway, drove into the penalty area and fired low to the right corner. Reno almost doubled its lead five minutes later, only for Chris Wehan’s shot to be denied by an excellent save by OKC goalkeeper Cody Laurendi, but then Energy FC was dealt a double-blow as both Laurendi and Coady Andrews had to be substituted after a heavy collision in the penalty area six minutes before halftime. Mfeka notched his second goal of the night five minutes into the second half with a precise finish into the left corner, and while Energy FC almost replied immediately as Brown’s close-range finish hit the left post, Reno continued to look more threatening. Wehan hit the left post after a low cross by Hoppenot from the right reached the back spot, but Mfeka notched his third of the night in the 62nd minute on Wehan’s 10th assist of the season. OKC almost pulled back a goal late, only for 1868 FC goalkeeper Matt Bersano to make an excellent save to deny Brown to preserve the shutout and wrap up a first place in the playoffs for 1868 FC.

18’ – RNO – Lindo Mfeka
50’ – RNO – Lindo Mfeka
62’ – RNO – Lindo Mfeka (Chris Wehan)

Three Things That Matter:

  • 1. While Reno certainly would have liked to clinch its first berth in the USL Cup Playoffs on Saturday night against Rio Grande Valley FC, it felt a little more fitting for the side to do so not only in front of its own fans at Greater Nevada Field, but also by putting on the sort of attacking display that has thrilled the Battle Born Brigade and become one of the biggest stories in the USL this season. Capping the night by setting a new USL single-season record as it reached 63 goals for the year added to the festivities, and kept the side in contention for a top-two finish in the Western Conference.

  • 2. USL co-leading scorer Dane Kelly had scored the first two hat tricks in Reno 1868 FC history, but with the Jamaican suspended on Wednesday night the third came from a much more unlikely source. Attacking midfielder Lindo Mfeka had only scored twice in his rookie season, with the former University of South Florida player on loan from the San Jose Earthquakes, but on Wednesday night he was clinical as he put all three of his chances away before being substituted out in the 67th minute having played his part in a historic night in Reno.

  • 3. As tight as the race for the playoffs is in the Western Conference, Energy FC will be disappointed that it was unable to earn a result on the road, but of more pressing concern will be the status of goalkeeper Cody Laurendi and defender Coady Andrews, whose collision in the first half saw both be substituted out. Both players have been stalwarts for OKC this season, with Andrews sitting second to center-back partner Mickey Daly in clearances and blocks this season. With a game against Sacramento Republic FC on Saturday night, whether either will be available for the contest is a critical question. Man of the Match

Lindo Mfeka, Reno 1868 FC – Mfeka notched the third hat trick in 1868 FC history on a historic night for the club as it both clinched a playoff berth for the first time, and set the USL single-season goal-scoring record.

Upcoming Games:
Reno 1868 FC
vs. Portland Timbers 2 – September 23, 10 p.m. ET, Greater Nevada Field
OKC Energy FC at Sacramento Republic FC – September 23, 10:30 p.m. ET, Papa Murphy’s Park

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