Sacramento Republic hosted their first and (for now) only home friendly of the season tonight as the welcomed Liverpool's U-21 team to Bonney Field. The Quails were able to go away with a 2-1 win thanks to goals from Agustin Cazarez in the first half and James Kiffe in the second.
The match began a bit slow, with much of the play between the two teams taking place in the middle third of the field.
The first goal of the match came in the 30th minute off the foot of Agustin Cazarez, who found himself alone at the top of the six yard box and put the Republic up over their overseas opponents.
The play began with a great run by Octavio Guzman, who ran about two thirds of the field to get deep into the Liverpool U-21s territory. Cameron Iwasa's then took possession, but his cross went too far over to Danny Barrera on the right side. Harry Williams reacted quickly to Barrera's ensuing pass -- which could have been a shot, really -- and headed it directly to Cazarez for the goal.
Cazarez's goal breathed life into both the match and the Republic. The play from both teams became more energetic and exciting, and while they were not dominating, the Republic looked like the better side for the final 15 minutes of the half.
The story at halftime
Sacramento Republic stats: 1 goal, 1 assist, 5 fouls, 4 corners, 3 offside, 0 saves, 4 shots, 2 shots on goal
Liverpool U-21s stats: 0 goals, 0 assists, 3 fouls, 3 corners, 0 offside, 1 saves, 3 shots, 0 shots on goal
The second half began much more exciting than the first. Despite the lack of early goals, both teams came out energized and picked up where the first half ended.
The first goal of the second half came for the Liverpool U-21s as Ryan Kent evened things up for the visitors in the 75th minute after executing a beautiful one-two pass.
The Baby Reds nearly added a second a few minutes later, but the shot mercifully rolled just wide and out for a goal kick.
New Republic signing Daniel Trickett-Smith nearly added another goal in the 81st minute, but Liverpool U-21 goalkeeper Lawrence Vigoroux denied him with a good diving save.
But the Republic were not going to be kept out forever, as James Kiffe proved when he scored the home team's second of the match in the 86th minute on a superb solo effort.
It was a great solo run Kiffe and the best goal of the night for the Republic. Kiffe picked up the ball and ran right through the Liverpool U-21s defense into the box before firing home a hard shot past the keeper into the net.
The Republic's defense held strong to finish out the game, holding off a late push from the visitors to earn a 2-1 win.
Lineup and Final Stats
Sacramento Republic starting XI: Dominik Jakubek; James Kiffe, Chris Christian, Derek Foran, Carlos Rodriguez; Agustin Cazarez, Danny Barrera, JJ Koval, Octavio Guzman; Harry Williams, Cameron Iwasa.
Sacramento Republic FC final stats: 2 goal, 1 assist, 16 shots, 7sog, 4 saves, 14 fouls, 9 cornes, 5 offside.
Liverpool U-21s final stats: 1 goal, 1 assist, 14 shots, 5 shots on goal, 5 saves, 8 fouls, 4 corners, 0 offside