Goals from Harry Williams and Mike da Fonte were enough to see Republic FC beat Seattle Sounders FC 2 for a third time this season and extend their unbeaten USL run to 9 games. The win also moves Republic up to 38 points and third place in the Western Conference, one behind second-placed LA Galaxy II and four below leaders Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2.
Republic began the match with attacking intent and was quickly rewarded for it. After missing a chance in the fourth minute, Harry "The Prince of Quails" Williams quickly bounced back to open the scoring a minute later. Williams, who started up top alongside Adam Jahn, linked up well with the Earthquakes player in the box and capitalized on a botched clearance by the Seattle defense to slot the ball past Charlie Lyon.
The home side seemed poised to control the match at that point, but a strong challenge on right back Emrah Klimenta two minutes later forced a substitution and halted the Republic’s momentum. The Montenegro international left the field with a left knee injury and was replaced by Tommy Thompson. Head Coach Paul Buckle was forced to bring in the Granite Bay native and drop down Octavio Guzman from his right midfield position into Klimenta’s spot since usual backup right back Joaquin Rivas was left off the matchday roster.
The match grew a bit choppy immediately after the injury, but Republic soon found its groove again thanks in part to an inspired performance by James Kiffe. Most of Republic’s offensive runs stemmed from the left back, who made several surging runs down his flank and paired well with Cameron Iwasa, who started this match in front of Kiffe as the left midfielder.
Republic had a strong spell of possession around the half hour mark with close efforts coming from Iwasa and Jahn, but neither were able extend their team’s lead.
Seattle fought off Republic’s pressure and almost equalized in the 38th minute through Michael Farfan. The recent Seattle signing received an incisive through ball from Mark O’Ojong and chipped the ball over Domenic Jakubek, but his shot sailed just wide. A few minutes later, Andy Craven also came close for the Sounders after being put through on goal, but his shot was saved at the near post by the Republic keeper.
That would be Seattle’s only shot on target in the first half and was followed by a barrage of Republic opportunities that the Indomitable Club was unable to convert. One of those was a driving effort from Thompson outside the 18-yard box that forced a dramatic save from Lyon, who was quickly becoming the Sounders’ MVP after making five saves in the opening 45 minutes of the game.
The second half started with Republic picking up where they left off. Williams continued to be dangerous, putting in multiple crosses into the box that the home side squandered away. In the 49th minute, Iwasa threatened from close range with a first touch effort from a Thompson pass in the box, but his shot went over the bar. A minute later, Jahn attempted a diving header from a Williams’ cross, but he too was unable to convert. In the 56th, it was Kiffe again, but his service to Thompson was volleyed wide.
There’s a saying in soccer that goals missed are goals against you and Republic did not prove to be an exception tonight. As has happened far too often throughout the season, the boys wearing Old Glory Red allowed their opponent to get back into the game, this time with a Zach Mathers equalizer in the 70th minute.
Andy Craven received a pass just outside the penalty box arc, and feeling the pressure from the Republic defense, laid the ball off to the oncoming Zach Mathers, who got a well-placed shot off between three defenders and past Jakubek.
Despite their affinity for giving up leads (or perhaps because of it), Republic was quick to respond and nearly restored the lead right away when Iwasa and Christian were both inches away from tapping in a Barrera cross in the 71st minute.
Buckle brought in Max Alavarez in place of Williams in the 73rd minute and within three minutes of his introduction, the substitute drew a foul on the left wing that led to what would be the pivotal moment of the game. Barrera stepped up to take the ensuing free kick and earned his third assist in as many games. The captain placed a perfectly weighted ball into the goal box and Mike da Fonte rose above the defense to head home what would prove to be the winner.
This time, Republic was able to manage the final minutes of the game. Despite a late spell of possession, Seattle was unable to muster a response and Republic went home with all three points.
Republic will play one more home game on Wednesday against Real Monarchs, before hitting the road for a stretch of five games.