Sacramento Republic FC completed its 2016 season with a 1-1 draw at home in a friendly match against CD Guadalajara (“Las Chivas”). Marco Bueno opened the scoring for Chivas with a header from a corner kick in the 18th minute before Danny Barrera equalized for Republic in the 36th minute in front of a clearly pro-Chivas crowd.
The scoreline somewhat flattered Republic, who faced a dominant Chivas that controlled the match from the outset without breaking much of a sweat.
Chivas fired the first shot of the match in the fourth minute. Mexican international Carlos “El Gullit” Peña made a drive down the middle, weaved through the Republic defense and laid a pass off to Alejandro Zendejas who fired a shot wide of goal.
Peña caused problems for the Republic backline all throughout the first half, orchestrating most of his side’s attacking plays.
Meanwhile, Republic was unable to get a grip on the game and retain possession throughout the opening quarter-hour.
Chivas capitalized on this and found the breakthrough in the 18th minute after Zendejas, a former FC Dallas and US U-17 player, redeemed his earlier miss by earning the visitors a corner kick from the left wing. Chivas defender Miguel Ponce took the corner and connected with his fellow Mexico international, Marco Bueno, who headed past Domenic Jakubek to put Chivas up 1-0.
Bueno, who recently represented Mexico in the Rio 2016 Olympics, was one of five players in Chivas’ starting XI that have been called up to the Mexican National Team in the past.
It wasn’t until the 26th minute that Republic infiltrated “the Goats’” final third of the pitch. Right-back Elliott Hord pressured Chivas down the flank and earned his side a throw in that Republic were able to turn into their first attempt at goal in the match, but the shot was blocked.
Overall, though, Chivas was strolling through the Republic midfield in the first half and Republic couldn’t seem to get its cylinders firing. Left-back James Kiffe, a big component of Republic’s offensive buildup play was subdued on his left wing. Up top, you could have been forgiven for not noticing that Republic’s season-long goal record holder, Cameron Iwasa, was playing. Same with Prince of Quails, Harry Williams. The only semblance of an outlet came through Hord and Danny Barrera on the right.
But despite Chivas’ dominion of the match up to this point, a moment of brilliance from the Republic captain in the 36th minute put the score even at 1.
Kneeshaw received the ball in the Chivas penalty box and laid it off to Barrera. The Colombian fired a beautiful left-footed curler from outside the box that Guadalajara keeper Miguel Jimenez could do nothing about.
Chivas continued to push after the goal, recording 11 shots in the first half versus Republic’s two, but the game went into halftime tied at 1.
If Peña was the fulcrum of the visitor’s attack in the first half, it was second-half substitute Eduardo “La Chofis” Lopez who became the most dangerous player in the closing 45 minutes.
“La Chofis” was a constant threat, taking on defenders and connecting well with his teammates. In the 64th minute, he fired a powerful, dipping shot from distance that Jakubek did well to parry out above the crossbar.
However, in typical Republic fashion, the home side came alive late in the second half and even had multiple opportunities to finish the season with a win.
With four minutes left in the match, Republic saw three successive goal opportunities denied back-to-back. First, Mackenzie Pridham headed a ball at goal that Jimenez was able to tip off the bar. Summer signing Christian Chaney jumped on the rebound, but his shot was well-saved by the Chivas keeper. Finally, Agustin Cazarez fired that last rebound at goal, but his shot was deflected off a Chivas player.
Two minutes later, Chivas responded with a shot of their own that forced Jakubek to make another great diving save and maintain the result for his side.
The entertaining match ended 1-1 and finished Republic’s 2016 season on a positive note.
What are your thoughts about how the match went? Sound off in the comments below!