As the horrible heat wave in the Sacramento area finally came to an end, Sacramento Republic and LA Galaxy II continued their heated rivalry. Although Sacramento had an overall regular season record of 7-3-2 against Los Angeles, LA’s remarkable ability to play well in Sacramento keeps the cities’ rivalry fresh.
After signing him only 2 days prior to the match, Luis Espino started at Center Attacking Midfield for Sac Republic. Paul Buckle himself stated that he hopes loaning out this player from the Atlas FC youth squad will fill the void injured Danny Barrera left behind.
“The signing of Luis is demonstrative of the good relationships that we have built with the CESIFUT Academy in Mexico,” said Republic FC Head Coach and Technical Director Paul Buckle. “Since losing Danny Barrera to injury earlier this season, we have been looking for a number ten and I believe that Espino is just that player. He is very creative with the ball at his feet and will be a valuable asset for us the rest of the season."
As the game started, a long pass by LA Galaxy II’s Covarrubias was headed away by Chris Christian but unfortunately bounced right in front of Ethan Zubak who proceeded to take a shot just inside the box. The ball was high, but curved downward at just the right moment. Nothing could be done as the ball hit the back of the net. This goal will also be recorded as the fastest goal scored in USL history with only 13 seconds taken off of the clock. Jordan Hamilton for Wilmington held the previous record scoring in 18 seconds vs Pittsburgh in 2014 .0-1 LA Galaxy II.
Sac Republic, after letting up a spectacular goal, played the rest of the match with great intensity as they kept the ball on the LA Galaxy II side of the field for most of the night. They added plenty of pressure early on by putting themselves in position to score, but were unable to take any (good) shots due to LA’s solid defense within the box.
In the 15th minute, Hayden Partain injured his left ankle badly enough to be taken off the field in a stretcher. Carlos Rodriguez, savior of last week’s match, came onto the field to take his place.
In the 26th minute, after early frustration and ticky-tack calls from the referees (on both sides), Sac Republic was finally able to score and tie the game up. Sammy Ochoa positioned himself perfectly so that when Klimenta passed him the ball, he was able to get behind the defense and cross the ball softly to the other side of the net. Espino, making his debut as a member of Sac Republic, was the fortunate recipient and headed the cross into the left side of the net. Match tied 1-1.
In the 28th minute, Sacramento added pressure immediately after scoring. Bijev was all alone on the left side of the box and took a low-rolling shot across the net. It barely missed as it rolled slowly out of bounds on the right side of the goal.
After scoring fast in the opening minute, Adrian Vera of LA weaved through traffic on the right side of the goal and took a shot from just outside the net in the 37th minute. He caught Sac Republic goalie Jakubek out of position and attempted to curve the shot around him. However he misjudged his foot placement and missed slightly to left of goal.
In the 39th minute, Tyler Blackwood was given a gorgeous feed between 2 defenders as he got behind them. He found himself in a one on one chance with the goalie but he was too close by the time he gained control of the ball and took a soft shot. It was easily kicked away by LA goalie, Eric Lopez.
For the remainder of the half, Sacramento remained in control by adding plenty of pressure on LA Galaxy’s side of the field. The Republic was also given a gift as Covarrubias was given a yellow card only a couple minutes before the half was called. Ultimately they weren’t able to capitalize on the rest of their shot attempts, but Espino’s goal was essential in putting record setting LA goal behind them.
At the beginning of the second half, it was Sacramento who came out strong. Within one minute, Sacramento was able to get off a cross and a corner kick. Unfortunately, unlike LA, they were unable to score early. Tyler Blackwood would also get another breakaway chance but as he approached the box, he held up and passed it behind him and gently on the ground. It was easily deflected away.
After another run to the outside Espino was fouled by Jorge Hernandez in the 50th minute. Although it looked like a bit of an acting job by Espino, Hernandez was given a yellow card which allowed Sac Republic a free kick. The free kick was headed by Christian who expected a teammate to be waiting in the middle of the box for an opportunity. Unfortunately, no one was there and the ball was cleared.
In the 59th minute, Tyler Blackwood ran down the right side of the field and was given a perfect pass which led him behind the defense. He ran at full speed as he was left alone against the goalie and had, quite possibly, the best scoring opportunity of his life. As the defense approached him from behind, Blackwood kicked it low and hard, but Lopez of LA, ran aggressively at Blackwood and deflected it away making a spectacular save.
In the 61st minute, Bijev was given the ball just outside the box. He took a shot which was deflected, but gained back control of the ball. With great confidence and under great pressure, Bijev took a shot far outside the box while fading away. The ball then proceeded to bounce into the right back of the net. 2-1 Sacramento leads.
Bijev found himself in yet another great position in the 73rd minute. He was able to get deep into the in the box and control of the ball with his back towards the net. He took a turnaround shot which was deflected by teammate Tyler Blackwood. The ball would then drift slightly over the net.
Late substitute Harry Williams was given a one on one chance in the 88th minute as a ball was fed to him right down the middle of the field. As he approached Lopez, Lopez slid and deflected the ball away.
After allowing a record setting goal, Sacramento Republic kept it’s composure and proceeded to beat LA Galaxy II 2-1 and without much danger from the opposing side. Sacramento was able to dominate in almost every statistical category in the match and it showed to anyone who watched it. What would look to be a close match, was never really close at all.
Notable Match Stats:
Possession: SRFC 60.1%; LA2 39.9%
Corners: SRFC 5; LA2 2
Interceptions: SRFC 9; LA2 10
Pass Accuracy: SRFC 86.2%; LA2 81.2%
Shots (Goals): SRFC 15 (2); LA2 6 (1)
Shot Accuracy: SRFC 40%; LA2 16.7%
Yellow Cards: SRFC 0; LA2 3