Tonight the Republic took on Fresno in the second installment of the Highway 99 Derby. As was the case of June 13, the temperature at kickoff was essentially 100 degrees in what was an important match for both sides. Simon Elliot decided to go with the following Starting XI.
Much like the action from the game earlier in the month, this sizzling hot showdown had very sloppy play from both sides, especially in the midfield. Back to back headed attempts at goal by the Foxes in the 6th minute proved to be more bark than bite as neither shot challenged Josh Cohen at all.
The next bark was almost deafening as a horrific back-pass towards the keeper by Villyan Bijev very nearly gave the Foxes the lead when Juan Pablo Coffa intercepted and had a shot tear just over the crossbar.
Jure Matjasic finally showed that the Republic actually arrived to play in Fresno as a 14th minute blistering shot caused Fresno’s keeper C.J. Cochran to deflect away only to eventually recover. A full 10 minutes or so of very careless soccer ensued before Jamie Villareal almost scored off a beautiful shot in the 25th minute that hit the left post. Cameron Iwasa nearly finished the job with a shot off the rebound, but the Fresno defense held after bending quite greatly.
Almost immediately after, Matjasic saw a blast from his leg in the 26th minute cause the keeper to fumble, but again recover safely. Fresno came roaring back not one minute later as Christian Chaney had a solid header very deep in the box that required a snap-save by Cohen who was up to the task.
The 30th minute saw Shannon Gomez receive a yellow card for playing good defense apparently as his foot hit the ball before any contact was made with the Fresno player. Former Republic favorite Danny Barrera almost opened Fresno’s scoring with a shot ripped from distance that Cohen had a slight bit of trouble controlling.
Shortly following, Caffa finally made the Republic pay for constantly playing around in the back with a nifty dribble around the keeper and slotted home a goal thanks in part to a impactful backheel flip by Rony Argueta.
Almost at half, Alex Cooper received a yellow for an open stud challenge on Shannon Gomez who seemed to be genuinely writhing for a bit on the ground, though he would recover. Mikey Daly then followed with his own yellow card in the 47th minute with a hard challenge in a dangerous spot at the top of the box. Eventually a Villareal strike would get the Republic close without success yet again.
The half ended with Fresno FC up 1-0 and the Republic probably lucky for that to be the case.
Disjointed play from the Republic continued in the second half as the defense allowed Chaney to get solid contact on a bicycle kick in the box that luckily was easily corralled by Cohen. Shortly thereafter, a shot from Zackary Ellis-Hayden in the 51st minute barely missed far post that would have likely made the deficit too large for the underperforming Republic.
Bijev saw a good chance amount to little as his blast in the 52nd minute was deflected but avoided the back of the net. In the 56th minute, Elliot Hord got close on a header, though frankly, it was unclear whether as shot or a pass. Lightning in a bottle was almost caught when a Matjasic flying side-volley off a well bent cross produced a close affront at the home-side’s goal. More bad defense, this time by Villareal, led to an open chance by Chaney in the 63rd minute who thankfully missed. Caffa followed with a shot in the 67th minute that barely missed high and wide far-post.
Wilson Kneeshaw was brought in the game in the 68th minute and nearly made his mark on the game with a solid shot in the 75th minute that stayed low and unfortunately in the keeper’s hands. The match got a bit chippy as the last 15 minutes saw the Foxes accumulate four yellows though one could argue they, much to their advantage, grinded the pace of the game to an excruciating halt.
This didn’t stop the Foxes from pressing on their own possessions as Franck Tayou almost put the game away with a wide open break down the left side of the field 1v1 with Cohen that should have been a second goal but was inexplicably flubbed. Unfortunately, Fresno would get the two goal advantage as a laser-strike from SEVENTY yards out by Tayou sealed the fate of this game in stoppage time.
With the loss, Republic FC move to 8-5-5 and stay in third place. They also stay just in front of the pack fighting for the playoffs. Fresno improves to 5-7-7 and have moved up to ninth in the standings, which can almost taste the playoff promised land.
Sacramento looks to get back to their winning ways when they host top-ranked Real Monarchs SLC July 7 in a top of the conference scrap.
Sacramento Republic FC: 0 goals, 12 shots, 5 shots on goal, 2 yellow cards, 13 fouls, 4 corners, 2 offsides.
Fresno FC: 2 goals, 20 shots, 8 shots on goal, 6 yellow card, 19 fouls, 3 corners, 2 offsides.