Sacramento Republic’s US Open Cup match against Real Salt Lake was rightly billed as the club’s most important since the 2014 USL PRO Championship game. Paul Buckle’s squad rose to the occasion and treated the fans in attendance to one of the best team performances in recent memory en route to a 4-1 win.
Captain Danny Barrera led the team with a goal and two assists, but every Republic player on the field put in an excellent performance.
Republic created an excellent chance in the game’s opening moments after Barrera found Harry Williams behind the RSL back line. Unfortunately for Republic, the Prince of Quails did not capitalize on it and the home team was denied the chance at a dream opening.
That opening play was reflective of how much of the match’s first half hour carried on. Although Republic were not quite dominating the game, the team was continually putting RSL under pressure and generally had the better run of play.
Barrera set up yet another teammate in the seventh minute, finding Tyler Blackwood in the penalty area with a well weighted ball over the top, but the forward’s first touch let him down and the chance was wasted.
Emrah Klimenta, just back from international duty with Montenegro, fouled RSL’s Jordan Allen in a dangerous position just outside the box in the 13th minute. He was spared from the referee’s book and the ensuing RSL free kick went over the crossbar.
Republic took the lead in the 29th minute with a goal by Trevin Caesar. Danny Barrera was once again involved in creating the chance by keeping the ball alive, but the credit fully goes to Caesar for putting his header at the back post on target.
The goal was Caesar’s second goal of the US Open Cup and a welcome one to Republic fans, who unleashed a roar of elation and appreciation when the ball went into the back of the net.
That excitement from Caesar’s goal was dampened somewhat when Real Salt Lake capitalized on a poor Republic play to equalize in the 36th minute.
RSL gained possession in midfield after a poor pass from Emrah Klimenta, and Ricardo Velazco mercilessly punished Republic for the error with a nice solo effort.
Although one might expect Republic to wilt after conceding an equalizer so soon after taking the lead, that was not the case. Republic kept up the energy from the first half hour despite RSL waking up.
Agustin Cazarez came up huge for Republic in the 43rd minute, scoring a goal to give the Quails the lead once more. More well known for his solid midfield performance, the goal was Cazarez’s first of the season.
Barrera once again played the role of provider, collecting the ball on the left wing and putting in an excellent cross right to Cazarez’s head.
Republic was handed an excellent chance to extend its lead even further just a few minutes later on a somewhat soft penalty earned by Caesar.
Veteran midfielder Jeremy Hall stepped up to the spot and calmly buried the ball in the back of the net to give Republic a two goal lead.
The whistle sounded soon after Hall’s penalty kick, bringing the first half to a close on perhaps the best possible note for Republic.
First Half Stats
Sacramento Republic FC: 3 goals, 63% possession, 7 corners, 1 save, 3 clearances, 2 offside, 5 fouls, 1 yellow card.
Real Salt Lake: 1 goals, 37% possession, 0 corners, 1 save, 22 clearances, 2 offside, 6 fouls
RSL head coach Mike Petke brought on US U-20 international Brooks Lennon, on loan from Liverpool, on for Jordan Allen.
As might be expected from an MLS team down in USOC play, the visitors came out reinvigorated in the second half and put the Republic defense under intense pressure in the opening five minutes.
Jeremy Hall had Republic’s first attempt on goal of the second half with a shot from approximately two miles out in the 53rd minute. It didn’t go in.
RSL had a threatening move in the 59th minute, but James Kiffe covered the center backs well and cleared away the danger.
Republic had an excellent opportunity to counter after the resulting counter attack, but Caesar kept the ball too long and the attack fizzled out.
Paul Buckle made his first substitution of the match in the 67th minute, bringing on Wilson Kneeshaw for goal scorer Caesar. Mike Petke made a sub of his own at the same time, bringing on Daniel Haber for José Hernandez.
Barrera received a yellow card in the 69th minute for a foul near midfield.
Although he had been supplying the assists for most of the night, Barrera got a goal of his own in the 71st minute to extend Republic’s lead even further.
James Kiffe sent in a superbly placed cross right to Barrera, who deflected the ball into the back of the net. The goal brought Barrera’s total scoring contribution to two assists and a goal.
Tyler Blackwood very nearly brought Republic’s total goals scored to five with a clever chip in the 77th minute. Unfortunately for the home side the RSL defense was able to clear the ball before it crossed the line.
Paul Buckle made another substitution in the 84th minute, bringing on Gabe Gissie for Williams.
Buckle made another substitution in the 87th minute, bringing on Christian Chaney for Blackwood. Blackwood had gone down just before being subbed off, so the decision was likely to prevent any injury.
Substitutes Gissie and Chaney very nearly combined for a goal in the 89th minute. Gissie brought the ball down the left wing before sending in a hard cross that just missed Chaney’s run.
Republic’s defense came up huge in the 90th minute to clear a dangerous RSL attack. First, Evan Newton punched away a cross that was then cleared by Klimenta.
Despite some last gasp attempts by RSL to get another goal, Republic’s defense held strong to preserve the 4-1 scoreline.
Republic advance to the Round of 16 with the win over RSL, joining fellow USL club FC Cincinnati. Republic’s next USOC opponent will be decided tomorrow morning in a drawing by US Soccer.
Sacramento Republic FC: 4 goals, 14 shots, 7 shots on target, 4 offside, 8 corners, 2 yellow cards, 53% possession
Real Salt Lake: 1 goal, 11 shots, 4 shots on target, 2 offside, 5 corners, 47% possession.
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