Sacramento Republic FC treated their home fans to an exciting 4-0 victory over Portland Timbers 2 tonight at Bonney Field.
Center back Mike da Fonte started the scoring early with a goal in just the fourth minute.
Danny Barrera started the play with a great lofted pass to Tommy Thompson at the back post. Thompson then headed the ball right in the path of da Fonte, who looped it over the charging Timbers 2 goalkeeper, Wade Hamilton.
JJ Koval saved the lead that da Fonte’s goal earned just a few mintues later, making a goal line save after a giveaway left the Republic defense scrambling.
Republic had another chance in the seventh minute with a Danny Barrera header from close range, but Hamilton got down quickly to make the save.
Evan Newton made a quick, diving save of his own in the 17th minute to preserve the Republic’s lead.
As the exciting half wore on, the action was still end-to-end, but the visitors found more dangerous opportunities but were unable to find a goal thanks to some good emergency defending from the Republic defense and a bit of luck.
Evan Newton came up big once again in the 28th minute, saving a shot by T2’s Niko Brett at the near post.
Republic leading goalscorer Cameron Iwasa extended the home team’s lead right before the end of the first half with a somewhat unconventional goal.
Danny Barrera was once again the creative catalyst, chipping a pass over the T2 back line to coincide with Iwasa’s well-timed run. Iwasa’s initial finish was not great, but he was fortunate that Hamilton’s save gave him a second chance to finish. And finish he did, chesting the ball in for his tenth goal of the season.
The goal made Iwasa the third player in Republic history to score double digit goals in a single season, joining Rodrigo Lopez and Thomas Stewart. Stewart reached double digits once in the 2014 season, while Lopez reached that milestone in both 2014 and 2015.
The Story at Halftime
Sacramento Republic FC: 6 Shots, 4 Shots on Goal, 4 Saves, 1 Yellow Card, 7 Fouls, 3 Corners, 2 Offsides
Portland Timbers 2: 8 Shots, 4 Shots on Goal, 2 Saves, 2 Yellow Card, 8 Fouls, 0 Corners, 2 Offsides
The second half started with some more fireworks from Republic, this time courtesy of San Jose Earthquakes loanee Tommy Thompson.
Danny Barrera got the assist once again, serving up a well placed long free kick. Thompson controlled the ball well with the finesse he is known for, then rounded the goalkeeper and passed the ball into the open net for an easy goal.
Republic nearly had a fourth goal in the 61st minute when Barrera hit a low curling shot towards the corner of the net, but Hamilton was able to make yet another save. Although Barrera had the shot, JJ Koval made the play happen, holding the ball up in the box until he could find Barrera in a dangerous spot.
Republic made their first substitution of the night in the 65th minute, bringing on Alfonso Motagalvan for Jeremy Hall.
The second Republic substitution of the night was newcomer Wilson Kneeshaw, who came on for JJ Koval in the 69th minute. Kneeshaw was the first of the team’s new signings to make a matchday 18 and the first to make his debut.
Kneeshaw made the most of his debut, scoring the Republic’s fourth goal of the night in the 82nd minute, running on to James Kiffe’s long ball out of the back before rounding the keeper and making an easy finish.
Republic made their third substitution of the night in the 84th minute, bringing on Carlos Rodriguez for Octavio Guzman, who came off to a standing ovation. Daniel Trickett-Smith also came on for Tommy Thompson, who also exited to a loud round of applause.
The last big play of the night belonged to James Kiffe, who saved the shutout with a goal line clearance.
The win put Republic alone atop the Western Conference standings with 40 points. Whether they end the weekend there depends on how tomorrow’s Colorado Springs Switchbacks and Vancouver Whitecaps 2 games go. But for now, Republic stand alone atop the Western Conference thanks to a fantastic 4-0 win at Bonney Field.
Next up for Republic is a midweek match against Orange County Blues down in Irvine on Wednesday. Kickoff is at 7:30pm.