The crossbar, and Republic FC’s inefficiency in front of goal, helped Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 hold the Capital City club to a scoreless draw in front of a sold-out crowd at Bonney Field.
Last week, Republic signed defender Elliott Hord from the Fresno Fuego of the Premier Development League. The former UC Davis defender made his debut against Whitecaps FC 2, starting the match as the right back.
After many weeks and experiments attempting to fill in Emrah Klimenta’s vacant position, the match against the visiting Canadian side on Saturday night could be an indication that Head Coach Paul Buckle may have finally found the man for the job.
Within the opening minutes of the match, Hord showed his willingness to go forward on the attack, finding space down the right flank and receiving a long ball from the left that he immediately served into the box, but Matt LaGrassa was only just unable to get on the end of it.
Hord continued to grow into the match, and in the 12th minute, drew a foul on the right wing that led to a free kick from Danny Barrera and another opportunity for Republic, but Chris Christian was unable to make contact with the ball despite an extravagant acrobatic display.
It wasn’t until the 20th minute that the home side finally had their real chance of the match. JJ Koval received a cross in the box from Barrera, lost his mark and fired off a shot after a 180-dgree turn that was saved by Whitecaps FC 2 keeper Spencer Richey.
Less than a minute later, Republic had another great opportunity to open the scoring. Forward Cameron Iwasa struck the bar with a low, driven shot that Richey would have been unable to reach had the deflection been kind, but unfortunately for Republic, the ball went off in the wrong direction, away from goal.
Vancouver seemed content to sit back in its own half and look to play the counter attack, no doubt influenced by Republic’s recent offensive displays and the Whitecaps’ own defensive woes. The home side seemed equally happy to patiently prod away, building up play through their full backs.
In the 27th minute, it was Hord creating chances again, this time making a great run down the right wing before laying a low, diagonal ball to an unmarked Matt LaGrassa in the box, but the Cal Poly product fired his shot well wide of goal.
Koval had another opportunity in the 36th minute when Barrera lofted a cross into the box to him, but Koval’s header was off-target.
A few minutes later, the woodwork denied Iwasa and Republic for a second time. Iwasa drove into the box from the left flank and unleashed a shot from a tight angle near the goal line that struck the crossbar and went out of bounds for a goal kick.
The first half closed with Republic goalkeeper Evan Newton as merely another one of the 11,569 spectators at Bonney Field—Vancouver mustered 1 shot in the opening 45 minutes and it wasn’t even on target.
Vancouver appeared to begin the second half with more impetus than the first, but Republic soon picked up where they left off.
In the 53rd minute, Barrera looked to find Octavio Guzman from the right wing with a well-placed cross into the box, but the Mexican native was unable to get his head on it.
Vancouver responded with their second shot of the game, coming in the 56th minute, but Kyle Greig’s low, long-range effort went wide.
Republic continued to pepper the Whitecaps’ penalty box with crosses, mainly through Barrera, but no one was able to connect with the Colombian’s passes.
Barrera, Sacramento’s assists leader, nearly broke the deadlock in the 73rd minute after receiving a rebound at the top of the Whitecaps box, but his missile of a shot flew just inches wide of the left post.
In the 77th minute, Carlton Cole made his Republic debut, coming on for fellow debutante Hord.
An 83rd minute Republic free kick sought to capitalize on Cole’s big-man physique, but he was unable to connect with Barrera’s cross.
The former EPL player’s introduction had forced Buckle to rearrange the midfield and Republic momentarily lost some of their fluidity late in the half—at one point Republic had five recognized forwards on the field.
Cole finally got his first shot of the match in the 88th minute off a low, piercing cross into the box from substitute Harry Williams, but Cole was only able to flick it straight at the Whitecaps keeper.
The match concluded in a stalemate and one point each for Republic and Whitecaps 2. The draw keeps Republic atop the USL Western Conference, two points ahead of second-placed Rio Grande Valley FC. Next up for the Indomitable Club is a home matchup against Orange County Blues FC on September 3rd.
What were your thoughts on the match and the debut of Republic’s recent signings? Let us know in the comments below.