In a rematch of the 2016 USL Western Divisional Quarterfinal, Sacramento Republic FC and Orange County Soccer Club met once again under the lights of Papa Murphy's Park, this time ending in a 4-0 Republic win. The home opener and sellout sent 11,569 fans home happy, and for the Quails, perhaps a small feeling of redemption.
The Republic had to shake off a slow start and a more aggressive side in Orange County. In the 11th minute, Orange County forward Duke Lacroix alluded several Republic defenders and put a terrific shot on goal that was just wide left, thanks in large part to the angle Republic keeper Evan Newton took to defend it.
However, it didn't take long for the Republic to settle into the match. In the 23rd minute, midfielder Danny Barrera delivered a beautiful long ball down the left side that was collected by forward Wilson Kneeshaw who immediately put two shots on goal. Orange County keeper Charlie Lyon was unable to collect the ball and forward Sammy Ochoa was there to hammer it home for a 1-0 Republic lead, sending Papa Murphy's Park into a frenzy.
Both teams traded possession throughout the remaining 20 plus minutes, and the half ended with the home side up a goal.
By the Numbers: First Half Stats
Sacramento Republic FC: 1 goal, 44% possession, 0 offside, 3 corners, 75.8% passing accuracy, 3 shots, 2 shots on target.
Orange County SC: 56% possession, 0 offside, 1 corner, 84.6% passing accuracy, 5 shots, 1 shot on target.
The Republic came out in the second half as the aggressors, much like they did in week one versus the Seattle Sounders 2. In the 48th minute, Kneeshaw took a ball up the right side and beat the defender for a one-on-one opportunity that was deflected just wide by the outstretched arms of Lyon.
The Republic would soon strike for their second goal. In the 58th minute, Kneeshaw collected a ball on the right side, dribbled it all the way down near the right goal post, and slide a pass through the middle of the box that was chipped in by Ochoa for his second goal of the game (third of season) to give the Republic a 2-0 lead.
Despite a 2-0 lead, the home side continued to pressure. Ten minutes later, in the 68th minute, midfielder Tyler Blackwood dribbled up the left hand side, hit a cross that was collected by Kneeshaw, who calmly hammered it home for a 3-0 Republic lead.
Ochoa almost scored a hat trick in the 71st minute, but the ball was gobbled up by Lyon.
The game slowed considerably until the 90th minute, when substitute forward Harry Williams, who had come on for Blackwood in the 85th minute, chased down a ball just beyond the midfield and beat the defender and goalie to give the Republic a 4-0 advantage.
A few more seconds ticked away and the final whistle was blown, but the damage was done. The Republic completely dominated the second half (possession, and shots on goal) in route to a 4-0 victory (and clean sheet) to start the season 2-0. The Republic return to action next Saturday, April 8 versus the Tulsa Roughnecks FC on the road.
Sacramento Republic FC Lineup (4-4-1-1): Evan Newton; James Kiffe, Emrah Klimenta , Jeremy Hall, Elliot Hord; Agustin Cazarez, Adam Moffat; Tyler Blackwood (off 85), Danny Barrera, William Kneeshaw (off 77); Sammy Ochoa (off 82)
Republic Bench: Dominik Jakubek, Julius James, Chris Christian, Daniel Trickett-Smith (on 82), Harry Williams (on 85), Gabe Gissie, Trevin Caesar (on 77).
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