Photo courtesy David Calvert / Reno 1868 FC
RENO, Nev. – Kharlton Belmar had two goals and two assists, including the stoppage-time winner, as the Swope Park Rangers took a 4-3 victory against Reno 1868 FC at a snowy Greater Nevada Field on Saturday evening. Reno needed an early save by goalkeeper J.T. Marcinkowski to deny Diego Rubio in the 13th minute, but 10 minutes later the hosts took the lead as Chris Wehan scored on a deflected shot after a scramble in the Swope Park penalty area. The Rangers hit back six minutes into the second half as Belmar produced a brilliant rabona pass to set up a streaking Rubio for a low finish, and then took the lead six minutes later as Hadji Barry set up Belmar for a low finish from the right side of the penalty area. Reno got back on level terms on the hour-mark, though, as Antoine Hoppenot skipped past his man on the right and centered for Brian Brown to fire home. Badji restored the Rangers’ lead with seven minutes to go with a roofed finish, and then moments after it appeared Reno had salvaged a point as a low cross by Brent Richards was turned into his own net by Swope Park defender Matt Lewis in the 89th minute, Badji sprang into action again to set up Belmar’s stoppage-time winner and a wild victory for the visitors.
23’ – RNO – Chris Wehan (Brian Brown)
51’ – SPR – Diego Rubio (Kharlton Belmar)
57’ – SPR – Kharlton Belmar (Hadji Barry)
60’ – RNO – Brian Brown (Antoine Hoppenot)
83’ – SPR – Hadji Barry (Kharlton Belmar)
89’ – RNO – Matt Lewis (own goal)
90+’ – SPR – Kharlton Belmar (Hadji Barry)
Three Things That Matter:
1. The Rangers produced a tremendous response to the deficit they faced at the start the second half, and in the middle of it was newcomer Hadji Barry, who played a key role in his debut for the club. The former Orlando City SC forward provided two assists in addition to his late goal, including two decisive moments that earned the defending Western Conference champion a victory to start the season, first with a piercing finish with seven minutes to go, and then on his second assist of the game to set up Kharlton Belmar’s winner.
2. Momentum swung back and forth between the two top-four finishers in the Western Conference a season ago, an indicator that both teams should likely be contenders again over the course of this season. Reno will be disappointed not to have come away with something from the contest after having twice leveled the score in the second half including a late equalizer on an own goal by Swope Park’s Matt Lewis. Reno will take positives from Saturday evening, and will now relish the chance to put this game behind them when it visits Las Vegas Lights FC next Saturday night.
3. Given the frigid conditions in Reno this weekend, the fact that the game was able to be played, let alone be the entertaining contest it was, is a big credit to Reno 1868 FC’s grounds crew and staff and to the players who battled not only each other but the elements on Saturday night. With snow falling steadily throughout the game, and the famed orange ball in use as a result, this game could end up as a ‘were you there when?’ moment in Reno’s young history.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Kharlton Belmar, Swope Park Rangers – Belmar played a role in all four goals with a brilliant assist on Diego Rubio's opening goal and the late game-winner to lift the Rangers to victory.
Reno 1868 FC at Las Vegas Lights FC – March 24, 11 p.m. ET, Cashman Field
Swope Park Rangers vs. Seattle Sounders FC 2 – March 24, 8:30 p.m. ET, Shawnee Mission South District Stadium