Yesterday was not a good day for Sacramento Republic FC. The team conceded its first goal of the season and saw its unbeaten streak ended at the hands of Kharlton Belmar and Portland Timbers 2.
It was a game that on paper should have been an easy point, if not a win. Things on the field don't always go how they look on paper, though. Here are some things that went wrong in yesterday's loss.
1. That horrible defensive lapse in the second half
The Republic's clean sheet streak was bound to end at some point. Not even the ridiculously sturdy 2015 Rochester Rhinos went through the season without conceding a goal. To have the streak end how it did though, was disappointing.
There is an argument to be made that Derek Foran was fouled by Kharlton Belmar on the play that led to T2's goal and that the play should have instead been a Republic free kick. Belmar does seem to hook and trip Foran. However, the blame for the goal does not rest with Belmar, it rests with Foran and goalkeeper Dominik Jakubek.
There would not have been any danger if Foran had not kept the ball for so long while he was isolated as the last defender. If he had just booted the ball clear -- which the Republic defense has had no qualms with this season -- Belmar would not have had the chance to try and snatch the ball away.
Jakubek is admittedly partially hung out to dry by Foran's mistake and is put in a difficult position as soon as Belmar gets the ball at his feet. However, rather than rushing Belmar and making himself big, he stands rooted to the spot as if Belmar was lining up to take a penalty kick. Jakubek's decision to hold his ground in no man's land gave Belmar the time and space he needed to curl the ball into the back of the net.
2. Miscommunication in general
Although the goal was the most memorable moment of miscommunication in yesterday's match, it was not the only one. The team seemed like they had trouble with misunderstandings throughout the game, though particularly in the first half.
The passing in general yesterday was not the type of crisp, accurate passing the Republic teams of the past have displayed. It seemed as though the guys were not on the same page at times, with passes either too far behind, too far ahead, or just plain not where the receiving player was expecting the ball to go.
One instance of this came in the 34th minute when Thommy Stewart dummied a pass into the box from Emrah Klimenta, seemingly expecting a teammate to be in perfect position to receive it. Whether it was Stewart assuming either JJ Koval or Cameron Iwasa were going to be near the penalty spot or one of the two not making the run they were supposed to, the only player in place to collect the pass was a T2 defender.
Danny Barrera was another player that had trouble with miscommunication yesterday. There were multiple times that he and his intended pass recipient were not on the same page about where the ball was going to go, which led to more unforced midfield turnovers than I would have liked to see.
3. The final substitutions came too late to make any real impact
Adam Smith's final two substitutions were ones that could have changed the game. He brought on Octavio Guzman and Mackenzie Pridham for Alfonso Motagalvan and Cameron Iwasa, respectively. Pridham in particular was surely a welcome sight to Republic fans, as many have been wanting to see the Canadian make his regular season debut.
The only issue with the substitutions is that both Guzman and Pridham came on in the 88th minute with hardly any time to do anything. They hardly got a chance to get acclimated to the game and had less than a dozen touches on the ball between the two of them.
Granted, these were not the only subs that Smith made, but the only others came during halftime. If a player can make an impact late in a match, why wait until there is almost no time left?
4. The T2 defense played extremely well
For all the offensive problems the Republic had yesterday -- and there were problems, it must be said that the T2 defense played a great game. The back line that had previously let in seven goal in three games really stepped it up to stonewall the Republic, even making multiple goal-line clearances to keep a clean sheet.
The double save against San Jose Earthquakes loan player and NorCal soccer phenom Tommy Thompson was the best moment of emergency defense by the T2 backline.
The above gif shows only the dramatic first clearance on the equally dramatic bicycle kick attempt by Thompson, but just seconds later Thompson had another chance denied by T2's Nick Besler.
5. Red cards never help
There were Republic fans on both sides of the fence when it came to Adam Jahn's red card. On one hand it was a loose ball that it could be argued he has a right to go for, but on the other hand he slid right into the T2 goalkeeper.
Regardless of if the call was correct or not, what is certain is that it really hurt the Republic's chances of finding an equalizer. Losing a big target forward like Jahn while trailing on the road against a team putting on a showcase in emergency defending did not help with the Republic's attempt to salvage a point.
What do you think went wrong in yesterday's loss? Sound off in the comments below.