Sacramento Republic FC followed up an excellent midweek US Open Cup win with another victory in USL play, this time a 2-1 win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2. Goals from Sammy Ochoa and Agustin Cazarez helped lead Republic to victory.
Usual captain Danny Barrera was serving a one-game suspension during tonight’s match, ending his team-record 59 consecutive USL appearance streak. Long-time Republic player Emrah Klimenta took the armband against Vancouver.
Barrera’s suspension and Republic’s busy recent schedule forced Paul Buckle to adjust his usual starting lineup. The most notable adjustments were the addition of Christian Chaney and Gabe Gissie into the starting XI, the first time both players made a start this season in USL play.
Whitecaps FC 2 drew first blood in just fifth minute with a goal by Terran Campbell, who got on the end of a Ben McKendry cross.
Campbell was completely wide open thanks to a late run into the box that no Republic player picked up on. His high shot smashed into the top of the net to open the game’s scoring.
Whitecaps 2’s lead did not last long, however. Sammy Ochoa tied things up fairly quickly with a goal in the 12th minute.
Ochoa capitalized on some poor play from a Whitecaps 2 defender, dispossessing him and slotting the ball home seemingly between the goalkeeper’s legs. The goal was Ochoa’s fifth of the season and the first since Republic’s 3-2 win over Tulsa Roughnecks on May 20th.
Republic were energized after Ochoa’s goal and continued to push the attack after a mostly sluggish first ten minutes.
Evan Newton made an excellent save in the 35th minute, coming off his line to put an end to a promising Whitecaps 2 counter attack.
Sammy Ochoa went down in the box in the 44th minute, leading to calls for a penalty both on the field and in the stands.
The referee did not deem it worthy of a penalty, however, and play went on.
The whistle signaling the end to the first half came shortly after, with no stoppage time to extend things.
Paul Buckle made a pair of substitutions at the half, bringing on Trevin Caesar and Daniel Trickett-Smith for Ochoa and Gabe Gissie.
Republic immediately began attacking by playing to Caesar’s strengths, trying to play the quick striker in behind the Whitecaps 2 back line.
Republic’s first chance of the second half came in the 52nd minute, but Trevin Caesar’s shot careened of the Whitecaps 2 goalkeeper’s face.
Although no one team purely dominated the run of play, Republic held the momentum for the majority of the second half’s first 30 minutes.
Paul Buckle made his final substitution of the match in the 67th minute, bringing on Harry Williams for Christian Chaney.
Elliott Hord tried to take advantage of a backpedaling defense with a hard shot in the 68th minute, but it was parried away and led to a corner kick. The ensuing corner led to some threatening moments orchestrated by James Kiffe, but the Vancouver defense was able to clear the danger.
Agustin Cazarez came up huge to give Republic the lead with a 74th minute goal. While Cazarez recently scored in Republic’s 4-1 win over RSL in the US Open Cup, the goal was Cazarez’s first in USL play since the 2015 season.
Caesar and Tyler Blackwood also deserve credit for creating the opportunity for Cazarez. Blackwood created the opportunity with a cross after an excellent run down the right wing, while Caesar showed good awareness in the box to pass to the trailing Cazarez.
Harry Williams had an excellent chance to extend Republic’s lead in the 82nd minute, but he was unable to keep the ball close to him and the Vancouver keeper came off his line to clear away the danger.
Evan Newton put his body on the line to preserve Republic’s lead in the 85th minute. The keeper was bowled over by a charging Vancouver attacker, but he held his ground and made the save.
Republic held off Vancouver’s attempts to find an eqializer for the remainder of the second half and even managed to create a few half-chances of their own. In the end, the referee called the game to a close after two minutes of stoppage time, giving Republic a well deserved and extremely important three points.
Republic are in action again next Wednesday, June 21 against Rio Grande Valley Toros. It will be the team’s fourth game in 11 days.
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