Photo courtesy Kiel Maddox / Fresno FC
FRESNO, Calif. – Fresno FC scored three times the opening 35 minutes on its way to a 4-1 victory against the Swope Park Rangers on Sunday evening at Chukchansi Park. The Foxes took the lead in just the fourth minute as Zach Ellis-Hayden made a clever overlap on the right before delivering a low cross that Christian Chaney put home at the top of the six-yard area. Chaney almost added a second in the 20th minute but couldn’t quite get his head to a floated cross from the right by Juan Pablo Caffa, but three minutes later the forward helped set up Danny Barrera for Fresno’s second, getting in behind the Swope Park defense before he squared for Barrera to fire home into the left corner. Nine minutes later the Foxes added a third as a free kick by Caffa was kept alive in the Swope Park penalty area, allowing Jemal Johnson to power home a volley just underneath the crossbar. The Rangers tried to hit back before halftime as Felipe Hernandez had a well-struck shot saved by Fresno goalkeeper C.J. Cochran, but the visitors had difficulty in creating clear chances to get back into the game. The Foxes then wrapped up all three points with eight minutes to go as Renato Bustamante fired home the rebound after a chance from a free kick had been parried by Swope Park goalkeeper Darrin MacLeod, and while Swope Park’s Wilson Harris scored in the 86th minute as he finished into an open net after a deflection had deceived Cochran when he tried to claim a through-ball, the Foxes completed a comfortable victory that almost saw them score a fifth as Franck Tayou’s stoppage-time chance came back off both posts and out to safety.
4’ – FRS – Christian Chaney (Zach Ellis-Hayden)
23’ – FRS – Danny Barrera (Christian Chaney)
32’ – FRS – Jemal Johnson
82' – FRS – Renato Bustamante
86' – SPR – Wilson Harris (Chase Minter)
Three Things That Matter:
1. After its midweek defeat to Northern California rival Sacramento Republic FC, there was a real need for Fresno to bounce back on Sunday night not only to push back toward the playoff positions in the Western Conference but also to provide a good boost of confidence on home turf. With a goal after just four minutes, and three quality finishes that gave the Foxes what proved to be an insurmountable lead after just over half-an-hour, Fresno put in one of the best displays of its inaugural season and got exactly the result and performance it needed.
2. This week in the USL had already seen numerous excellent finishes, and Fresno’s Jemal Johnson got in on the act with his strike just after the half-hour mark on Sunday night that served as another highlight-reel finish for the winger. The volleyed strike from close to the penalty spot was executed with perfect technique that saw it fire in just below the crossbar and gave the Foxes a capper to an outstanding attacking display in the first half that carried the hosts to victory.
3. Swope Park was coming in off two consecutive victories, including Wednesday night’s defeat of Western Conference-leader Real Monarchs SLC, but never quite seemed to get going on Sunday night as Wilson Harris’ first professional goal proved little more than a late consolation. The Rangers are still in solid shape when it comes to the top eight in the West but will have plenty to work on defensively after conceding four goals in a game for the second time this season.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Christian Chaney, Fresno FC – Chaney recorded a goal and assist to lead the way on the Foxes’ opening two goals as his side took a comfortable victory against the defending Western Conference champion.
Fresno FC at Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC – June 23, 9 p.m. ET, Weidner Field
Swope Park Rangers vs. Las Vegas Lights FC – June 24, 5 p.m. ET, Children’s Mercy Park