Sacramento Republic FC snatched a draw from the jaws of victory in a 2-2 tie with Colorado Springs Switchbacks on Saturday night. A goal from Pascal Eboussi in second half stoppage time made the difference for the visitors.
Paul Buckle changed up his starting XI once again in tonight’s game, switching up both the shape and personnel.
Republic trotted out a 4-4-2 diamond formation for the first time in many weeks. The last time the team used any variant of the 4-4-2 was in a 1-1 draw with San Antonio FC on July 1. Since that match, the team had mostly used a 4-3-3 formation.
The addition of Peter McGlynn to the starting XI was the most significant personnel changes. McGlynn, touted as a utility player earlier in the season, was given an opportunity at right back in place of Elliott Hord.
Buckle’s decision to move Tyler Blackwood, who usually does his best work in wide areas, to the middle of midfield was an interesting one.
The visitors started the match on the front foot, getting in behind the Republic defense multiple times in the first ten minutes but ultimately not creating much.
Republic newcomer Matt Wiesenfarth gave the Quails their first set piece opportunity in the 11th minute. James Kiffe served in an inswinger, but Blackwood’s header was off target.
Evan Newton did well in the 20th and 21st minutes to bail Republic out with a pair of saves.
Caesar gave Republic another set piece opportunity in the 27th minute, but James Kiffe’s service was not capitalized on.
Blackwood and Caesar combined for one of Republic’s best chances of the first half in the 36th minute, but the Trinidad and Tobego international put his shot over the crossbar.
Blackwood was instrumental in Republic’s first goal just one minute later, but this time he connected with Agustin Cazarez.
Blackwood got free from his defender with a clever cutback near the endline, then passed to Cazarez at the top of the box, who ripped a powerful first time shot past Switchbacks goalkeeper Moise Pouaty and into the back of the net.
Republic’s celebrations were not destined to last long, however, as the Switchbacks equalized just one minute later thanks to a goal from Luke Vercollone.
Vercollone was able to sneak around McGlynn and get in behind the Republic back line, putting him in a great position to take his shot.
When it seemed as though the Switchbacks would take the momentum in to the half time break, Republic went ahead in first half stoppage time thanks to Caesar and Wiesenfarth.
Caesar, who had a decent opportunity a few minutes before, intercepted a Switchbacks goal kick that went right to him. Caesar fought off a strong challenge from a Switchbacks defender, drove to the right side of the box with Pouaty in tow. He then hit a clever backheel pass to a wide open Wiesenfarth, who shot the ball with his first touch around the defense for his first Republic goal.
The pair of forwards did well to capitalize on a mistake from the visitors and send the Quails in to the locker room with some momentum.
The second half started off at a fairly rapid pace, with both teams pressing forward with purpose. Tyler Blackwood created a few half chances all by himself in the opening minutes for Republic. The visitors had an excellent opportunity to equalize in the 52nd minute, but Masta Kacher missed an absolute sitter and let Republic off the hook.
Blackwood nearly had a goal of his own in the 58th minute after getting in behind the Switchbacks defense, but Pouaty came up huge with a save.
Paul Buckle made his first substitution of the night in the 70th minute, bringing in newcomer Villyan Bijev for Caesar. Bijev, one of USL’s premier chance creators, recently joined Republic on loan from Portland Timbers 2.
Buckle made his second substitution of the match in the 77th minute, bringing on Gabe Gissie for Carlos Rodriguez, likely due to injury or fitness concerns for the latter player.
Republic’s third and final substitution of the match came just two minutes later, with Sammy Ochoa coming in for Wiesenfarth.
Peter McGlynn went down with what looked to be a cramp in the 85th minute. Normally McGlynn might have been subbed off, but with Buckle’s three subs in seven minutes, he was forced to play out the game.
Ochoa nearly got a goal in the 86th minute on a breakaway, but Pouaty was able to make the save. He came close to scoring once again on the ensuing corner kick.
The newcomer Bijev nearly scored a goal in his Republic debut in the 89th minute, but his shot from the top of the box went just wide of the post.
Republic came incredibly close to conceding a last gasp equalizer in the 90th minute due to a poor defensive play, but Newton made a big save.
However, the Switchbacks did score on the ensuing corner kick.
The corner kick that led to the equalizer was a decent one, but the defensive collapse that led to the opportunity in the first place was simply atrocious.
The terrible defensive play ended up costing Republic a win that it had seemingly wrapped up nicely. The 2-2 draw brings Republic’s winless streak to four games.