Reno 1868 FC aims for playoff berth, stronghold on Group A's top spot

Kevin Partida
Kevin Partida and Reno 1868 FC take on Sac Republic FC on Saturday. (David Calvert/Reno 1868 FC)

Reno 1868 FC gets a third crack against the only team to beat it this season.

The third game in the Donner Pass Derby, which pits Reno against Sac Republic FC at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Papa Murphy’s Park, also will have major playoff implications and offers Reno a chance to clinch a playoff berth.

First place in USL's Group A will be on the line as Reno and Sac Republic are tied atop the standings with Reno having played one fewer game (11 to 10). A Reno win or Tacoma loss would clinch a playoff berth for 1868 FC, which is looking for its fourth postseason appearance in four seasons in the USL. Reno is 8-0-2 this year, with both losses coming to Sac Republic, each by 1-0 margins. Both goals came via a penalty shot.

“They’ve beaten us twice,” Reno head coach Ian Russell said. “So I think that’s good motivation for our guys. I think the last time we played them was a game we should’ve won. The first one was a very sloppy game that they probably deserved to win. Either of those games could’ve gone either way. I think we deserve a win.”

Reno's last game was a historic 7-1 in over Portland. The team has had a week to prepare for this road contest. Reno re-opened USL play last month at Sacramento, a 1-0 loss with the goal coming in extra time via penalty. Both teams have played well of late. Sacramento has won six straight games; Reno has won four straight.

This game pits two of the USL's best defenses. Sacramento has allowed just nine goals, ranking fourth in the USL. Reno has given up only 10 goals. Reno has the edge offensively with 27 goals scored compared to Sacramento's 16.

The game will air locally on Nevada Sports Net and nationally on ESPN+.

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