For a club that has seen so much success in such a short time, it might come as a surprise that Sacramento Republic FC have had some trouble winning their season openers. In the magical 2014 season they fought LA Galaxy II to a 1-1 draw. In the less magical but still pretty OK 2015, they were handed a tough 4-2 loss by Seattle Sounders 2. Last night, to kick off the still developing but possibly magical 2016 season, the boys in Old Glory Red earned a 1-0 win over Seattle Sounders 2, breaking the pattern and avenging a stinging loss at the same time.
Despite some early pressure from the Republic - including a agonizingly close chance in the 5th minute where neither Danny Barrera nor Adam Jahn could connect with a Thommy Stewart cross, much of the first half was played in the middle third of the field. There were some quality attacking thrusts from both teams and a few shots taken by the Republic, but ultimately the first 45 minutes of the match ended scoreless.
Fans who had studied their SRFC vs S2 history know that the first half of last season's 4-2 loss against S2 was also scoreless at halftime. However, thankfully history was not about to repeat itself.
The second 45 minutes last night began with more of the same back and forth play that we saw in the first half. The lone goal of the evening came in the 63rd minute courtesy of a Thommy Stewart penalty kick.
Adam Jahn, on loan from the San Jose Earthquakes, drew the penalty off S2 center back Tony Alfaro.
S2 responded to the goal by pushing hard for an equalizer, but the Republic back line of Emrah Klimenta, Chris Christian, Derek Foran, and James Kiffe were able to repel the dangerous chances and preserve their lead. Veteran Republic goalkeeper Dominik Jakubek made some contributions of his own to the defensive effort, coming up nicely in the 76th minute with a quick reaction save off a deflected cross.
With one game behind them, three points in the bag, and a return to Bonney Field in their future, it seems like the Republic will be going into their April 2nd home opener against Arizona United SC with a bit of momentum. Keeping that momentum going will require getting around AZU's goalkeeper, Carl Woszczynski, who put up a fantastic performance at Bonney Field in the last regular season game of 2015.
Republic Lineup and Final Stats
Starting XI: Dominik Jakubek; Emrah Klimenta, Derek Foran, Chris Christian, James Kiffe; Agustin Cazarez, JJ Koval, Danny Barrera, Tommy Thompson (Out 90); Tommy Stewart, Adam Jahn (Out 80).
Subs: Evan Newton, Mike da Fonte, Max Alvarez, Ivan Mirković, Chase Minter, Alfonso Motagalvan (In 90), Cameon Iwasa (In 80)
Final Republic stats: Goals: 1 (Stewart), Yellow Cards: 2 (Cazarez, Thompson)