Soccer: Reno 1868 FC Defense Contains International Superstar Didier Drogba

by Aldo Amato, Reno 1868 FC · @ min read

RENO, Nev. — A defensive battle between two of the top clubs in the USL’s Western Conference ended in a tie on Friday at Greater Nevada Field.

Reno 1868 FC drew with Phoenix Rising FC 0-0 in front of a record crowd of 7,092 on a warm June night.

The clean sheet was goalkeeper Matt Bersano’s fifth clean sheet this season as he helped Reno 1868 FC remain unbeaten at Greater Nevada Field since the home opener.

Despite controlling most of the match (54 percent possession), Reno 1868 FC could not find the back of the net even with six shots on target.

A majority of Reno’s chances came in the first half. Reno worked the ball along the near sideline to defender Brent Richards, who finished the night with two shots on target.

Reno midfielder Darwin Espinal perhaps had the shot of the night from outside the box where his screamer was somehow saved by Phoenix Rising FC keeper Josh Cohen, who finished with six saves.

One of those saves included a stop on Dane Kelly’s penalty kick in the 34th minute.

Reno’s chances continued into the second half with forward Brian Brown nearly converting as time ticked down in the match.

Perhaps the story of the night was Reno holding three international world class players (Omar Bravo, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Didier Drogba) at bay.

Reno held Drogba, at one point a Top 10 player in the world, to one shot on target the entire night.

Reno 1868 FC will have a quick turnaround as it hosts LA Galaxy II on Monday at 7:30 p.m. The match will feature post-match fireworks.

Tickets for the match are available at

Reno 1868 FC Head Coach Ian Russell

On the final result…

“I thought it was a pretty even game and a draw was a very good result.”

On the record crowd…

“They’ve been supporting us all year. It’s a great fanbase and the supporters section was really loud tonight. We want them to keep driving us forward.”

On the biggest takeaway…

“I thought we had some chances but getting a clean sheet is always a good result.”

Reno 1868 FC Defender Jimmy Ockford

On biggest takeaway…

“You know just getting a clean sheet was big. To not allow a team like that to score is big for us.”

On playing Didier Drogba and Omar Bravo…

“We got the shutout which was awesome against players like that.”

On Matt Bersano’s fifth clean sheet…

“This is his homefield and he’s just a fantastic leader. It shows in his play.”

Reno 1868 FC goalkeeper Matt Bersano

On clean sheet against Didier Drogba, Omar Bravo and Phoenix…

“Those guys make my life easy back there and I just give all credit to the team. With those blocked shots, they just make my life easy in the net.”

On a positive takeaway…

“A draw is still a point. It was huge for us because it gets the momentum going, especially with a quick turnaround.”

On playing against one of his childhood idols (Didier Drogba) and getting a clean sheet…

“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t one of the best feelings in the world. But again, it is all credited to the guys back there with me.”

CVT contributing photographer Ron Harpin was on scene and sent in the photos below:

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