Sacramento Republic FC extended their unbeaten streak to nine with a 1-1 draw against LA Galaxy II on Saturday night. A late equalizer from youngster Wilson Kneeshaw proved to be the difference maker for the Quails.
The first 20 minutes of the match featured little in the way of scoring opportunities, with most of the play happening in the middle third. As the half wore on, the home team gained the advantage, setting up shop in the Republic’s half.
Los Dos nearly took an early lead in the 23rd minute, but Mike da Fonte came up huge with a goal line save.
The play started with a poor back pass from James Kiffe, which forced Evan Newton to leave the goal unattended. Thankfully for Republic, da Fonte positioned himself well in the goal and was able to knock away what could have been a gut-punch of a goal.
In an attempt to help ease pressure on the embattled Republic defense and get the ball into the Galaxy II half of the field, Republic head coach Paul Buckle brought on Mackenzie Pridham for Octavio Guzman in the 35th minute. Unfortunately for Republic, the substitution did not end up doing much to help them escape their own half.
Los Dos capitalized on their pressure soon after the substitution, taking the lead on an a strange Ari Lassiter goal in the 38th minute.
GOAAAAL @LAGalaxyII 1 - 0 @SacRepublicFC // #LAvSAC pic.twitter.com/o9JiNi0C7g— kyle (@____donnelly) September 11, 2016
The goal was one of the strangest of the season, with the ball bouncing on the crossbar twice before finding its way to the feet of Lassiter.
Play between the two teams was mostly the same after the goal as it had been before, with the home side mostly in control. Republic were able to get a shot off in the 44th minute, but it went straight to Galaxy II’s Clement Diop for an easy save.
After two minutes of stoppage time, the referee put a stop to one of the worst halves of Republic soccer this year and the Quails went into the locker room down a goal.
In an attempt to find some answers in the attacking half, Buckle brought on forward Harry Williams for Agustin Cazarez for the second half. Republic looked a bit better in the second half, but the home side still looked mostly in control.
Republic had their first promising attacking move of the half in the 52nd minute, when captain Danny Barrera tried to put Mackenzie Pridham in behind the Los Dos defense with a through ball. While the idea was a good one, Diop was able to deal with the pass before Pridham got to it.
Still looking for a way to find an equalizer, Paul Buckle made his third substitution of the match in the 54th minute, bringing in Carlos Rodriguez for JJ Koval.
The Republic had a great chance to find an equalizer in the 62nd minute after some quality combination play around the Galaxy II penalty area, but Harry Williams’s final pass was just behind his intended target.
Paul Buckle made his fourth substitution of the night in the 69th minute, bringing on Wilson Kneeshaw for Matt LaGrassa in the hopes that the newcomer could find an equalizer.
Buckle’s faith was rewarded in the 83rd minute when Kneeshaw scored his second goal of the season to bring the Republic level with Los Dos.
The goal was one of the match’s few bright spots for Republic, combining quality passing with a well timed run and an excellent finish from Kneeshaw.
The late equalizer seemed to take the air out of Los Dos a bit, but Republic were unable to find a winner and instead settled for a draw.
The draw kept Republic at the top of the Western Conference table with 48 points from 28 games, just three points ahead of second-placed Rio Grande Valley FC, who also have a game in hand.
What are your thoughts on tonight’s match? Were Republic lucky to draw? Sound off in the comments below!