Sacramento Republic FC traveled to Oklahoma Saturday night to face Tulsa Roughnecks FC in a critical match for the Republic in their hopes to capture a top four seed in the 2019 USL Championship Playoffs. Sacramento came into the match most recently earning a 2-2 draw at home against LA Galaxy II Wednesday night. Tulsa also came in off a 1-1 draw last Saturday night against Tacoma Defiance.
Republic FC Manager Simon Elliott mixed up the starting XI a bit given the club’s third match in a week. As expected, Sam Werner and Villyan Bijev got the start:
Sacramento would strike first in 13th minute when a ball in from the Quails was poorly tracked by Tulsa and sailed over their defender. Bijev quickly bounced on it, gained control and calmly slotted it home past goalkeeper Sean Lewis to give the Republic a 1-0 advantage.
Just six minutes later (19th minute), Thomas Enevoldsen would get in on the action after Tulsa allowed the Republic to waltz into their final third. Drew Skundrich gathered a pass from Werner, and he crossed the ball to his left. Cameron Iwasa slightly tapped it again to the left, and Enevoldsen’s right-footed shot easily beat the keeper to extend the lead to 2-0. It was Enevoldsen’s eighth goal as a member of the Republic in just 10 matches.
In the 31st minute, Tulsa would pull one back on a beautiful header from Mallan Roberts off a set piece from Rodrigo Da Costa from the far right side. Just nine minutes later (40th minute), Tulsa would level on another header — this time from forward Janu Silva.
The whistle would blow on the first half shortly thereafter, and the two sides would go into the locker room tied at 2-2. As we have seen of late, the Republic could not hold an early lead.
In the 48th minute, Bijev had an excellent opportunity to regain the lead for the Republic, but his right-footed shot (on a wide open net) hit the crossbar. It’s one of those opportunities that Bijev likely converts nine times out of 10. As it would turn out, Bijev had a similar opportunity in the 55th minute, but he could also not convert.
Ultimately, the Republic’s pressure would pay dividends. In the 59th minute, more confusion in Tulsa’s back line would benefit the Republic — this time it was Cameron Iwasa who easily tapped in his club-leading 15th goal of the season.
Republic would hold onto their 3-2 advantage and secure a massive three points on the road. With the win, Sacramento moves to 14-12-6 (48 points) and into fourth in the Western Conference table with Austin Bold FC and Real Monarchs SLC idle. The Quails also remain undefeated all-time at Tulsa (5-0) and 8-0-1 all-time.
Sacramento return home Wednesday when they host FC Juarez in an International Friendly. The match is scheduled to kickoff at 7:30pm.
Sacramento Republic FC: 3 goals, 13 shots, 7 shots on target, 50.1 possession, 4 corners, 3 offsides, 1 yellow card.
Tulsa Roughnecks FC: 2 goals, 7 shots, 3 shots on target, 49.9 possession, 4 corners, 0 offsides, 2 yellow card.
Republic FC Lineup: Bobby Shuttleworth, Haris Chantzopoulos, Sam Werner, Drew Skundrich, Juan Barahona (OUT, 45’), Villyan Bijev (OUT, 73’), Dekel Keinan, Thomas Enevoldsen (OUT, 86’), Jaime Villarreal, Jordan McCrary and Cameron Iwasa.
Republic FC Bench: Rafael Diaz, Hayden Partain (IN, 45’), Dariusz Formella, Keven Aleman (IN, 73’), Ray Saari, Stefano Bonomo (IN, 86’) and Hayden Sargis.