Sacramento Republic headed up north to Portland, Oregon on Sunday to face Portland Timbers 2, the worst team in the entire league.
One highlight of the match coming in was the possibility to two of the USL Western Conference’s best goalkeepers going head to head in Republic’s Evan Newton and Timbers 2’s Kendall McIntosh.
The starting XI that Paul Buckle selected for his team was somewhat surprising to many fans.
Both of Republic’s new signings, midfielder Hayden Partain and forward Matt Wiesenfarth, received starts. Not only that, but usual starter Trevin Caesar was on the bench and Sammy Ochoa was left off the matchday roster entirely.
Both Republic and Timbers 2 had decent attacking moves in the opening 10 minutes, but neither were really able to do much with them.
T2’s Bill Poni Tuiloma received the game’s first card for a late challenge to Tyler Blackwood at midfield.
Republic took the lead early on in the 14th minute thanks to a goal from the Arden Archer himself, Wilson Kneeshaw. Kneeshaw took advantage of a ball knocked down at the edge of the penalty area by Wiesenfarth and calmly blasted the ball into the back of the net.
Interestingly, the play that led to the goal began with the free kick won by Tyler Blackwood. James Kiffe launched the ball towards the T2 penalty area, which was then controlled by Wiesenfarth and knocked into Kneeshaw’s path.
The game opened up somewhat after the opening goal, with both teams driving forward with purpose.
Chris Christian received the first yellow card of the match for Republic in the 24th minute for an aerial challenge.
Although Republic was the better team for much of the first 45 minutes, T2 was able to put Republic under increasing pressure as the half wore on. The home side were able to put together long periods of possession and some decent attacking moves for the final 15 minutes.
Already on the scoresheet for an assist, Wiesenfarth put his name in the book for a second time with a yellow card in the 43rd minute.
The referee brought the first half to an end after only two minutes of stoppage time. Republic went into the locker room with a one goal lead thanks to Kneeshaw’s goal.
First Half Stats
Sacramento Republic FC: 1 goal, 1 assist, 3 shots, 2 shots on target, 42.3% possession, 78% passing accuracy (60% in T2’s half), 4 crosses, 3 yellow cards.
Portland Timbers 2: 0 goals, 7 shots, 1 shot on target, 57.7% possession, 85% passing accuracy (74% in Republic’s half), 15 crosses, 1 yellow card.
Neither Buckle nor T2 head coach Andrew Gregor made changes at half time.
However, Buckle did make a substitution early on in the second half, bringing on Christian Chaney for Kneeshaw in the 53rd minute. The Arden Archer had been on the receiving end of a harsh challenge earlier on in the half and was limping for a while afterward, which was likely the reason behind Buckle’s decision.
The second half continued much like the end of the first, with T2 pushing forward to get an equalizer. Republic seemed content to sit back and absorb pressure, allowing a T2 attack that was relatively ineffective to continue probing the back line. Many of Republic’s foray’s into the home team’s territory were in the form of counter attacks.
Buckle made another substitution in the 65th minute, bringing on Gabe Gissie for Wiesenfarth. The new signing did relatively well in his debut, most notably setting up Kneeshaw’s goal.
Jeremy Hall received a yellow card in the 68th minute for shoving a T2 player off the ball. T2’s Harold Hanson also received a yellow card.
The yellow cards continued stacking up for Republic. Gabe Gissie got one of his own in the 76th minute, just 11 minutes after coming on.
Tyler Blackwood nearly doubled Republic’s lead in the 79th minute, but his shot deflected off the post and out.
T2’s Hanson received his second yellow card of the match in the 84th minute for pushing Chaney over the ad boards. His sending off gave Republic a player advantage for the final few minutes of the match.
Buckle made his third and final substitution of the match late in the half, bringing on Trevin Caesar for Chaney. Caesar nearly scored a few times after coming on, but was ultimately unable to widen Republic’s lead.
The final whistle blew after three minutes of stoppage time, awarding Republic with a 1-0 win over T2 thanks to Kneeshaw’s goal and a great performance by the Republic defense.
With Sunday’s win, Republic move to 11-6-4 on the season and leap ahead of Reno 1868 FC to take over fourth place in the Western Conference.
Republic’s next match takes place next Saturday, August 19 against Reno at Papa Murphy’s Park.
Sacramento Republic FC: 1 goal, 1 assist, 9 shots, 4 shots on target, 36% possession, 77% passing accuracy (63% in T2’s half), 9 crosses, 5 yellow cards.
Portland Timbers 2: 0 goals, 14 shots, 4 shots on target, 64% possession, 86% passing accuracy (77% in SRFC’s half), 29 crosses, 1 yellow card.