Sacramento Republic FC came into this match looking to get a win past their rivals Reno 1868 and move into the conference semifinals. Sacramento was coming fresh off a comeback win in the midweek against New Mexico, in the play-in rounds. Reno had an extra days rest, as they earned the two seed in the conference and avoided the play-in round. Reno won both games during the regular season, going 4-1 and 2-0. However, Sacramento won the match in the Open Cup 1-0.
Coach Simon Elliott fielded this lineup for the playoff clash:
Reno got the match started early.
It was another disastrous start for Sacramento — this time in the 5th minute. You can’t really fault anyone upon this. The ball just looked dead and Corey Hertzog pounced on it. Hertzog won the ball against Bobby Shuttleworth and put it into the net.
Sacramento responded quickly thereafter in the 9th minute. Cameron Iwasa played the ball out wide to Juan Barahona. Barahona played the cross into Sam Werner who smashed it into the back of the net to tie the score at 1-1.
The game slowed down and became a more possession based from there. Reno held the majority of the ball in the Republic half, with Sacramento looking to spring opportunities forwards. Reno had several half chances, but nothing too threatening as they continued to prod the Republic box.
One of these chances happened in the 32nd minute, as Reno moved forwards. The ball presented itself to Eric Calvillo who shot from distance. The ball went wide of target and out for a goal kick.
A deflection off of Raul Mendiola almost proved lethal to Sacramento in the 41st minute. Hertzog put in a shot from the top of the box that bounced off of his teammate. Shuttleworth was able to make the adjustment and capture the ball.
A decent chance for Reno came in stoppage time. A cross from the Reno was cleared only as far as Mendiola. Mendiola’s shot was deflected off for a corner. The resulting corner got to Apodaca who headed it down for Shuttleworth to make a diving save.
Despite the game being level, Reno looked the more lethal of the two sides going into the half. Reno held possession well and had more dangerous chances. Sacramento did not have any other shots on target, besides the goal, and looked a half-step behind their opponents.
Sacramento got the game restarted in the second half.
Sacramento had some good energy coming out from the break. However, it was Reno who had the first chance. Aidan Apodaca got in a 1v1 against Jordan McCrary as he dribbled into the box. His shot was blocked by a last-ditch tackle by McCrary and then cleared.
Thomas Enevoldsen nearly gave Sacramento the lead in the 61st minute. Enevolden got the ball at the top of the box and fired a low driven shot. Matt Bersano got a hand on it and pushed it out off the post.
Coach Elliott looked to inject energy into the lineup subbing Villyan Bijev for Sam Werner, who has consistently going forward throughout the match.
Sacramento looked dangerous in the 66th minute. A cross from Keven Aleman nearly got to Bijev at the far post but it was headed clear. Another cross sent in bounced around the box and was eventually cleared by the Reno defense.
Another attacking sub came on for the Republic in the 69th, as Dariusz Formella came on for Aleman.
Iwasa gave Sacramento the lead as Bijev pressured a Reno defender into a misplay. Bijev played Iwasa in first time to put him in 1v1 against Bersano. Iwasa neatly slotted it past the Reno keeper with twenty minutes left on the clock.
Enevoldsen got another past Reno in the 75th minute. Iwasa played a ball over the top of the Reno defense to Formella. The ball was then played in to Enevoldsen and he put it past the keeper to give Sacramento its third goal on the night.
Iwasa looked for the fourth in the 83rd minute. It started with great combination play down the right with Enevoldsen seeing Iwasa nearly through on the over the top ball. His shot was low and into the keeper’s arms.
Reno tried desperately to get one back late in the game, with a variety of crosses and corners. However, each was cleared by the Sacramento defense, especially by Mitchell Taintor who was putting his body on the line each time he had the chance.
Sacramento weathered the storm in the first half after conceding early. Shuttleworth’s heroics kept the game close and eventually the Quails leveled it with Werner. A great offensive showing came in the second half as Iwasa and Enevoldsen sealed it for the Republic.
Sacramento will go on to the western conference semifinals to face El Paso Locomotive FC.
Sacramento Republic FC: 3 goals, 13 shots, 5 shots on target, 41.5% possession, 2 corners, 1 offsides, 2 yellow cards, 0 red cards.
Reno 1868 FC: 1 goal, 20 shots, 5 shots on target, 58.5% possession, 9 corners, 0 offsides, 0 yellow cards, 0 red cards.
Republic FC Lineup: Bobby Shuttleworth, Mitchell Taintor, Dekel Keinan, Juan Barahona, Jordan McCrary, Drew Skundrich, Jaime Villarreal, Keven Aleman (OUT, 69’), Sam Werner (OUT, 65’), Thomas Enevoldsen, Cameron Iwasa
Republic FC Bench: Rafael Diaz, Matt Mahoney, Haris Chantzopoulos, Hayden Partain, Dariusz Formella (IN, 69’), Villyan Bijev (IN, 65’), Ray Saari