Tonight, Sacramento Republic FC took on the Los Vegas Lights FC in a match that had high stakes for the Republic as they needed a win to have a chance (Phoenix would also need to Draw/Lose) at the second seed in the Western Conference playoffs. This was also the second #5YearsofGlory celebration night which added to the electric atmosphere.
On a pleasant early fall night, Republic FC began the match against Las Vegas with the following Starting XI:
Matthew Harding, from Make-a-Wish Northern California, started the match with a legitimately blistering ceremonial goal. The Republic proceeded to follow the teenager’s lead and began attacking immediately.
In the 6th minute, Republic FC defender Elliott Hord had an impressive chip over the top of the defense that Jure Matjasic nearly converted to open the scoring. Multiple additional chances on goal were had all before the 8th minute.
The Republic continued to pepper the porous Vegas defense, and in the 25th minute, Luis Espino put a quality strike on frame off a close free kick drawn right outside the box. Minutes later, Villyan Bijev jabbed a shot towards goal, but Las Vegas Lights goalie Thomas Olsen blocked it.
Another Republic chance was seen in the 33rd minute as defender Shannon Gomez made a nice overlapping run but flubbed the shot into the side-netting.
The half ended with Las Vegas incredibly lucky to be even with the home side after 45 minutes, considering the Republic held 60 percent of possession and had almost four times as many shots.
The second half was a continuance of the Republic dominance. In the 53rd minute, shots by Matjasic and then Bijev required Olson’s full effort to save.
In the 54th minute, the referee issued a yellow card to Alex Mendoza for a foul just outside the box that set up a Republic free kick. After the ensuing free kick was unable to be cleared by Vegas’s defense, Cameron Iwasa hammered the ball into the top-netting finishing an incredibly creative succession of passes from Hord to Christian Eissele to Iwasa. His team-leading 17th goal once again gave the Republic the lead in a game.
Fairly invisible in the match, save for some shoving, former U.S. Soccer Starlet Freddy Adu was subbed out in the 56th minute. The horrific Vegas defense would continue as in the 60th minute, Bijev hit a rocket that barely missed after impressive carving run into the box.
In the 90th minute, Las Vegas came the closest they would come to scoring in the match as they had a crack right on goal but to no avail. The Republic came right back with just subbed in Roberto Hategan almost chipping Olson.
The final whistle finally would blow and ended a very impressive showing for the Republic both in the game and the regular season as they went undefeated in their final eight matches to take the second overall seed in the Western Conference with Phoenix losing.
The Republic finish the season 19-7-8 and are set to host any playoff matches up until at least the Western Conference final.
Las Vegas Lights FC finish the season 10-16-7 and finish in 15th place. Sacramento looks to continue its winning ways when they host the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs next Saturday. They will either play St. Louis FC or Swope Park Rangers depending on the outcome of tomorrow’s play.
Sacramento Republic FC: 1 goal, 12 shots, 6 shots on goal, 4 yellow cards, 12 fouls, 3 corners, 0 offsides.
Las Vegas Lights FC: 0 goals, 9 shots, 1 shots on goal, 5 yellow cards, 12 fouls, 5 corners, 0 offsides.