Jamaican Kelly leads Reno to first USL win, T&T’s Guerra scores

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TAMPA, Florida, CMC – A hat-trick from Jamaican forward Dane Kelly and a winning goal from Ataulla Guerra were the highlights from Caribbean players plying their trade in the United Soccer League on Saturday.
Kelly blasted two first-half strikes and followed to hit one of two in the second half, as Reno 1,868 dismissed home stadium advantage to claim their first victory of the season, when they pummelled Phoenix Rising 4-0 at the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex.
Elsewhere, Guerra connected for his third goal of the season to hand Charleston Battery a 1-0 victory over Bethlehem Steel at the MUSC Health Stadium.
In Scottsdale, Arizona: A crowd of 6,067 came hoping to see the debut of former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, but it was Kelly, the USL all-time scoring leader with 53 career goals, that made the biggest impact, carrying his aggregate for the season to five and giving expansion side Reno a morale-lifting first win.
Reno goalkeeper Matt Bersano played the ball deep after two minutes and Chris Wehan got a touch from the left side to Kelly, who chested the ball down, darted towards the goal and slammed a right-footed shot from 23 yards out into the bottom left-hand corner to give Reno the lead.
Kelly extended the advantage four minutes later in a counter-attacking move, blasting a left-footed shot from the middle of the penalty area into the bottom right-hand corner off a right-sided cross from fellow Jamaican striker Brian Brown.
The rest of the half unfolded without either team making any inroads, as Kelly missed was twice saved on the line in the final minute of the first half, when Rising’s netminder Josh Cohen stopped his initial shot and veteran defender Jordan Stewart cleared his second attempt from the rebound.
But Kelly was not be stopped and he put the match out of the reach of Phoenix six minutes into the second half, when changed direction after running onto a through-ball from Lindo Mfeka enough to create time and space for him to fire the ball into the bottom right-hand corner.
Wehan ensured there was to be no comeback story for the home team, when Mfeka set him up and he shot a crisp left-footed shot from the centre of the box into the bottom right-hand corner of the net in the 77th minute.
In Charleston, South Carolina: The 17th-minute strike from Trinidad & Tobago forward Guerra was the only item that separated the Battery and the Steel.
Playing without their Jamaican scoring leader Romario Williams, the Battery were looking for a new hero and the 29-year-old Guerra filled the breach.
Antigua & Barbuda international Quinton Griffith sped toward the end line to cross the ball from the right and Heviel Cordovés flicked header was redirected toward the left of the six-yard area, where Guerra volleyed low inside the left post for the lead.
The second half turned into a battle of attrition, as the Battery clung to their narrow lead and the Steel tried their best with little success to break down their opponents’ defence to open the game up.
Crucially, the Battery came away with a victory that moved them into first place in the Eastern Conference with 16 points from seven matches and one game in hand.
 
 

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