Sacramento Republic FC felt the sting of defeat today at UBC Thunderbird Stadium thanks to a late game-winner from Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2. After scoring first, the Republic conceded two unanswered goals that turned what could have been three points against one of the top teams in the Western Conference into a disappointing loss.
The first half of the match was one of the more eventful ones in recent memory, with a goal from each team. Whitecaps 2 were in control for much of the first 45, putting the Republic on the back foot. The Republic seemed happy at times to absorb the pressure, having come out in what looked like a defensive 5-3-2 formation.
Though Whitecaps 2 controlled much of the first half, it was the visitors who struck first thanks to a goal from Cameron Iwasa in the 14th minute. Iwasa collected a well-hit through ball from Danny Barrera for his team-leading seventh goal of the season.
The home side were given a chance to tie things up from the spot in the 20th minute when Mike da Fonte was judged to have taken down a Whitecaps 2 forward in the penalty area. Marco Bustos stepped up to the spot and slotted it past Evan Newton for an equalizer.
Bustos nearly made it 2-1 for the home side in the 27th minute after getting in behind the Republic defense, but Newton was able to make the save and snuff out the attack.
Talented Whitecaps 2 teenager Alphonso Davies caused some trouble in the 35th minute, dribbling through four Republic defenders to break into the penalty area at speed. Despite the show of individual skill, however, he was unable to put the ball in the net thanks to a Newton save.
Whitecaps 2 controlled much of the final 10 minutes in the half, but did not create much in the way of dangerous opportunities.
The Story at Halftime.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2: 1 Goal, 6 Shots, 5 Shots on Goal, 4 Corners, 9 Fouls, 1 Yellow Card
Sacramento Republic FC: 1 Goal, 2 Shots, 1 Shot on Goal, 1 Corners, 7 Fouls, 2 Yellow Cards
The second half started similarly to the first, with Whitecaps 2 looking the better of the two teams, but things slowly evened out.
Though Republic Head Coach Paul Buckle did not make any substitutions at the break, he wasted little time before making one after the start of the second half. Buckle brought on San Jose Earthquakes loan striker Adam Jahn on for Mackenzie Pridham in the 52nd minute in order to get something going in the offensive third.
Jahn made a bit of an immediate impact, getting off a fairly good shot and stopping a Whitecaps 2 breakaway in his first minute on the field.
Buckle made another substitution in the 60th minute, bringing midfielder Matt LaGrassa, who until recently was on loan with Tulsa Roughnecks, on for fullback Kip Colvey. This move turned the Republic’s 5-3-2 into something closer resembling their usual 4-4-2.
Cameron Iwasa had a chance to put the Republic up with another goal when Adam Jahn found him in the box in the 76th minute, but his shot was saved.
Paul Buckle made another attacking-minded substitution in the 78th minute, bringing on creative winger Max Alvarez for defensive midfielder JJ Koval. Alvarez had a chance to make something happen with a free kick in the 81st minute, but his service went right into the wall of Whitecaps 2 players.
The final few minutes of the match were mostly quiet and a draw seemed to be in the making, but Whitecaps 2 came to life in second half stoppage time and scored a game winner.
Forward Thomas Sanner beat Derek Foran to a Daniel Haber cross and headed the ball towards the far post and past Newton.
With today’s loss, the Republic are now winless in their last four games and sit in fifth place in the USL Westnern Conference, six points behind leaders Vancouver Whitecaps 2. Next up for the Republic is a match against Rio Grande Valley FC Toros next Saturday, July 30.
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