Despite the triple digit Arizona head at kickoff, Sacramento Republic FC earned a hard-fought draw against Arizona United SC thanks to a late equalizer by Mackenzie Pridham. The draw gave the Republic a crucial point, putting them in third place in the USL Western Conference, just one point behind second place LA Galaxy II with two games in hand.
Although the heat was intense, the majority of the first half was fairly mild, with little excitement beyond a few isolated incidents.
Republic goalkeeper Dominik Jakubek was first called upon in the 19th minute to deny Long Tan the opening goal of the match. Tan was in on goal, but his shot was blocked by a charging Jakubek.
The first real chance on goal for the Republic came in the 34th minute on a fairly well worked counter attack. Danny Barrera got a shot off, but it was saved by the AZU goalkeeper
Cameron Iwasa very nearly put the Republic ahead near the end of the half, but a goal-line save by Arizona United forward Tyler Blackwood denied the Sacramento native his sixth goal of the season.
Both Harry Williams and Iwasa did well on the play, which was the most exciting moment of the mostly boring first half. Williams put in a fantastic through ball into space for Iwasa to run on to. Iwasa did well to get around the AZU goalkeeper and get a shot off.
The Republic were starting to pile on the pressure in the last 10 minutes, but they were unable to break through and the first half ended without a goal from either team.
The Story at Half Time
Sacramento Republic FC Stats: 0 goals, 7 shots, 3 shots on goal
Arizona United SC Stats: 0 goals, 1 shot, 1 shot on goal
Although the Republic looked like the better of the two teams going into the locker room, it was Arizona United that took the lead early on in the second half with a goal from Tyler Blackwood in the 52nd minute.
AZU did well to earn their goal. It was not a result of a particularly egregious mistake by the Republic defense, but rather some good ball control and a fine shot from Blackwood.
Paul Buckle made a pair of offensive-minded substitutions in the 61st minute, sending in Max Alvarez and Mackenzie Pridham for Agustin Cazarez and Harry Williams in hopes of finding an equalizer.
Pridham nearly found that equalizer in the 69th minute when Emrah Klimenta got to the endline and set him up near the top of the six yard box, but the former Cal Poly forward’s pair of shots were saved and the Arizona lead held.
Paul Buckle made yet another offensive-minded substitution in the 83rd minute by bringing in winger/forward Joaquin Rivas for midfielder Octavio Guzman.
Buckle’s final substitution of the night was to switch out some center backs, with Derek Foran coming in for Mike da Fonte, presumably for some extra height up top.
After an increasingly desperate push for an equalizer, the Republic finally broke through right at the end with an 89th minute goal from Mackenzie Pridham.
The substitute did well to win the header and was helped by the Arizona keeper coming out to claim Barrera’s cross but missing. The goal was Pridham’s first in league play with the Republic and his third across all competitions.
With Pridham’s goal coming so late in the match there was precious little time for United to find another game winner and the referee blew the final whistle just minutes later, sending the Republic home with their now eight game undefeated streak intact and a point in hand.
The Republic are back in action next week as they host Seattle Sounders 2 at Bonney Field on Saturday, July 2.
What did you think about tonight’s draw? Let us know in the comments below.