Forward Corey Hertzog leads Reno in goals with 13 and has dished five assists. (Photo by Reno 1868 FC)
RENO, Nev. - Los Zorros take on Reno 1868 FC in a battle between the No. 2 and No. 3 teams in the Western Conference. Kickoff is set for 6:45 p.m. from Greater Nevada Field. Fans can watch the action live on CW 59 and ESPN Plus.
Fresno holds a three-point advantage and one game in hand over Reno heading into Saturday, but a win won't come easy with the two sides playing to 1-1 draws in each of their three meetings, including a March 23rd fixture from earlier this season. Both clubs will look to bounce back from losses in Week 26. Reno has lost three in a row to playoff contenders San Antonio, Phoenix and Portland, meanwhile, Fresno will want to recover from its 2-1 upset at Tulsa that was Los Zorros' first loss in more than a month. By the numbers, Reno holds the offensive edge, outscoring Fresno 54-42 this season, but it is Fresno's defense that has put the Foxes three points above the hosts, allowing just 26 goals in 25 games this year for the second-best defensive record in the West and fifth-best across the entire USL Championship. Fresno has faced 89 shots from opponents this season, while Reno has allowed 136 shots leading to 44 goals. Since the departure of all-time leading scorer Brian Brown, Reno's Corey Hertzog has jumped into the role with 13 goals this season to go with five assists. Former LA Galaxy Academy product Raul Mendiola, who scored in the 1-1 draw earlier this season, has a team-best seven assists and four goals.
FORWARD JAIME CHAVEZ
JC: "After this loss last week, we've been staying positive and focusing on this next goal. We're still winning games, we're in second place and we're confident going into tomorrow."
HEAD COACH ADAM SMITH
On the matchup of #RNOvFRS
AS: "It's kind of a mini-cup final, really. We've got a game in hand, but we can't bank on that. We must be focused on this game and bounce back [from last week]. Reno will be feeling the pressure more than ourselves, having lost 3 in a row. That's something no coach wants to go through. I know that will be in the back of Ian's mind, and with them being at home, there will be a bit more pressure on them.
On his expectations for #RNOvFRS
AS: "I'm expecting to go there and put in a good performance. We need to make sure we have learned from the last game. We came out flat. In the first half we came out flat and in the second half as well and we got punished for that. We've got to turn that around, that's the most important thing. We need to come out from the start. We need to take our chances. We need to make better decisions in those wide areas and we need to put away our chances. We've addressed all of this in training this past week and we're concentrated and focused on tomorrow night."
"Reno is a very good opponent, we know that, but to be honest, I don't care how we grind out the result, I just hope we come back with something. That's our biggest hope. I know we're capable of it. It doesn't matter if it's ugly, if it's pretty, if we smash three goals in the back of the net, or if we scrape by. As long as we get something out of this game I'll be a happy coach."
0-0-3 all-time (All 1-1 draws)