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Recap: Sacramento Republic 2, Colorado Springs Switchbacks 1

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Expectations are now a mile high

Sacramento Republic v Colorado Springs
Ryan Goff

Sacramento entered tonight’s match against an up and down team in the Colorado Springs Switchbacks. Colorado has gone 3-0-3 over the course of the early USL season but came off a potential momentum-building 4-0 win against Reno. Sacramento’s first Wednesday match of the season after an emotional draw against Las Vegas would prove to be difficult.

FIRST HALF SUMMARY

First act of excitement during tonight’s match occurred in the 8th minute after Colorado Striker, AJ Ajeakwa made a great run after receiving a beautiful lob pass between two Republic Defenders. Cohen proved to be unfazed by the difficult task and took a slide towards the middle of the box and deflected the ball away.

In the 9th minute, Cohen quickly initiated a counter attack to the outside, which translated to a corner opportunity by Villyan Bijev. Bijev made a nice high cross to the opposite side of the goal that resulted in a missed chance by Mitchell Taintor.

During the 18th minute, Colorado was able to get a cross off and into the box. With only two defenders in his way, Ajeakwa got another great look at the net and headed it towards the lower right corner. Cohen, with his elite instincts, made a great, diving save.

After a lot of flirting with a potential goal, Colorado ended up getting another great opportunity in the 27th minute. As a Switchback player weaved towards the box, Hayden Partain slipped which allowed an easy low cross for Colorado. As the ball reached another Switchback, he wound up for a strike but the ball was deflected away, seemingly by hand.

Switchbacks pleaded for a penalty, but no whistle was blown. Karma would then rear it’s ugly head as the upcoming corner for Colorado floated high into the night sky and fell perfectly onto midfielder Shane Malcolm’s head and in for a nice goal and 1-0 advantage.

The rest of the half would feature an unusually frazzled Sacramento team who seemed to lose control of the ball and their own bodies each time the ball touched their feet.

In the 36th minute, Colorado lofted a ball towards the outside of the Sacramento box which Hayden Partain whiffed in an attempt to clear the ball. Right behind him, Defender Carlos Rodriguez slipped and fell after misjudging the bounce of the ball resulting in a 1 on 1 opportunity between Republic keeper Josh Cohen and Josh Suggs of Colorado.

Cohen, still unfazed, was able to make himself big, which caused a high miss by the Switchback’s defender.

Halftime: Colorado 1, Sac Republic 0

SECOND HALF SUMMARY

In the 53rd minute, Adam Moffat made a nice run, weaving into the box and creating a 1 on 1 opportunity with the Colorado goalie Moise Pouaty. As Moffat tries to gather himself, his hesitation allowed Pouaty to make a nice save.

After a series of attacks, Sacramento would finally get one home as Cameron Iwasa found himself free after a beautiful pass up the middle by Carlos Rodriguez. After receiving the pass, Iwasa took one touch and took a strike towards the net for a beautiful goal in the 64th minute leveling the match at 1-1.

In the 68th minute, Iwasa found himself with an even better opportunity as he stood alone with only Colorado’s goalie in the way. Having all the time in the world may have been the worst thing for him as Iwasa took his time and attempted a cute juke on Pouaty, but botched the moment, resulting in an easy save for Pouaty.

As Sacramento continued to attack, in the 73rd minute, Villyan Bijev received the ball on the left outside of the field. He found a seem in the Colorado defense and patiently took an approach. As the Colorado defenders started to crowd him, Bijev pulled a crossover only Allen Iverson could make, causing the defender to fall.

To put icing on the cake, Bijev took a shot and nutmeg’s Pouaty for a potential USL goal of the season, giving Sacramento a 2-1 advantage.

Sacramento would continue it’s attack for the rest of the night as Colorado appeared to get more and more exhausted. In the 90th minute, the match nearly ended on a bad note for the Colorado Switchbacks as their energy appeared to be gone. Pouaty would lazily kick the ball away, but ended up at the feet of Kevin Aleman who almost converted on a long shot.

Soon after, the referee’s whistle blew and Sacramento ended the night on top and still undefeated at 4-0-2 (3-0-0 at home).

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE MATCH

Once again, my choice is Josh Cohen. How could it not be? Tonight’s field was quite slippery and although he allowed a goal, he made three amazing saves, two of which were 1 on 1 opportunities for Colorado. Shout of to Rodriguez for making a beautiful pass to Iwasa for the game-tying goal.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE MATCH

I know I’m starting to repeat myself, but I’m giving this to Bijev. He hit what will be a contender for goal of the year and the match-winner. He appeared messy at times, but his savvy play and constant aggressive style made life difficult for Colorado. Their attention towards him also provided Iwasa to find space to work with, ultimately resulting in the game-tying shot.

NEXT MATCH

Sacramento Republic will play their next match against the Tulsa Roughnecks Saturday, April 28, 2018 7:30pm at Papa Muphy’s Park.