After allowing a goal under a minute in back to back matches, Sacramento Republic would replace Dominik Jakubek with Evan Newton hoping to end that trend.
2' | No goals in that first minute tonight #SACvSLC— Republic FC (@SacRepublicFC) September 28, 2017
With Newton back in the starting lineup, the start of the match would conveniently take a defensive turn. He played aggressive early on, as if he was trying to prove something, and it appeared to reflect off of the rest of the team as they repeatedly scrapped and challenged the possessor of the ball.
Coming into the match, Real Monarchs sits atop the USL Western Conference had scored 51 USL goals (fourth in the league) including 2 in their last match against Sac Republic on May 13. This would be a great challenge after Sacramento has shown recent signs of struggle on the defensive end. Sacramento currently hovers tentatively in the 7th slot and needed a win to keep Orange County on the outside who are only 5 points behind.
As far as positioning goes, Sacramento struggled to defend the outside as the Monarchs continually sprinted down the sides of the field. Once they reached the box however, the Monarchs were smothered by a plethora of Sacramento defenders. With the leadership of Evan Newton, the defense smothered whichever opposing player came even remotely near the net.
The half up to this point would be defined as a back and forth battle of nothingness. Sac Republic was the first to get a real opportunity. In the 43rd minute , SRFC kicked a corner. The ball went high into the air and as it descended, it was met by the head of Tyler Blackwood who was able to nick the ball. Unfortunately, it landed half a foot above the net and out of bounds leading to more nothingness.
22ish' Halfway through the half and things are, uh, very Republic-y. Lots of long passes. Some ok break-ways. Nothing to show for it. 0-0 pic.twitter.com/WSLRM9n2oY— IndomitableCtySoccer (@BlurbsIndomita) September 28, 2017
As the first half came to a close, both teams went to the locker room with frustration. Both squads competed hard but had nothing to show for it. The shot attempts were few and only one was on target. And even that was an easy save. This however would not continue in the second half.
Halftime: Tied 0-0
After a strong first half on the defensive end, a corner and a series of shots from the outside by the Monarchs eventually led to an incredible save by Evan Newton in the 46th minute, with the keeper diving to the right side of the net. Sadly, Real Monarchs was there for the rebound and put in an easy goal. 1-0 Monarchs.
A couple minutes later, the Monarchs were fortunate to benefit from another deflection that resulted in an outstanding pass and a one on one situation with Evan Newton. Perhaps too aggressive, Newton ran out of the net to add pressure the the attacking forward. With great poise, the forward chipped the ball over Newton’s head for an easy goal.
The rest of the match would feature several desperate crosses that would result in a couple great opportunities. But what has plagued Sac Republic their whole season would reflect in a matter of 40 minutes. Many, many chances presented themselves, but SRFC was unable to capitalize and score.
57' | CHANCE! Kiffe crosses the ball into the box and Ochoa connects with a header but it's just wide of the net. #SACvSLC— Republic FC (@SacRepublicFC) September 28, 2017
In the 71st minute a couple beautifully crossed balls resulted in a couple of great opportunities to make the match closer. After both cross attempts, the ball hung around on the grass just 5 feet from the net, and a skirmish to get the ball was ultimately won by Real Monarchs who was able to clear it away.
72' | Corner kick for Republic FC. Scramble in the box for the ball but in the end Moanrchs clear, no Republic FC shot. #SACvSLC— Republic FC (@SacRepublicFC) September 28, 2017
During the 85th minute, Wiesenfarth was given a great feed in the middle of the box by Ochoa, but was unable to deliver on a wide open net once the Monarchs goalie came out and added pressure. Wiesenfarth would take the shot attempt but ultimately it would sail far left of the goal.
In the 89th minute, Espino received a ball and ran to the outside. After a couple jukes and wiggle moves, he was able to cross the ball to Ochoa who was the lone quail surrounded by 4 Monarchs defenders. After being held, Ochao was awarded an iffy penalty. What would happen next, was the very definition of Sac Republic’s 2017 season. Ochoa lined up for a meaningless penalty kick and it showed as he kicked the ball hard to the lower right corner of the goal, but it was easily knocked away by the Monarchs goalie. Another scoring opportunity served on a silver platter that went unfinished.
The result of the match gives me mixed feelings. Aside from the awful 2 minutes in which Real Monarchs scored, I thought Sacramento played competitively against the best team in the Western Conference. Although Sacramento failed to win, I could see this being a great time to discover and fix all of the little cracks. However Sacramento currently sits at 7th in the Western Conference. And with only 4 games left in the season with 9th place Orange County only 5 points behind, Sacramento will have to play it’s final 3 on the road and it’s last home game against the red-hot Phoenix Rising.