Sacramento Republic FC kicked off their sixth season Saturday night in front of a bundled up yet jubilant crowd at Papa Murphy’s Park. It WAS a rather chilly night in Sacramento, but that did not damper the excitement and anticipation of fans who had been waiting months to cheer on the Boys in Old Glory Red again and another season of footy in the Capital City.
Republic FC welcomed in Real Monarchs SLC who finished fourth in the Western Conference Table in 2018, posting a 19-12-3 record (60 points), which also included a first round playoff loss to Reno 1868. Republic also came off a successful 2018 campaign where they posted a 19-7-8 record (65 points), and similar to the Monarchs, also suffered an opening-round home playoff loss to Swope Park Rangers 1-2.
Second-year Manger Simon Elliott fielded the following starting XI. Worth noting, it was a much-different starting XI compared to the last few seasons:
In the 35 minute, the visitors would strike first when the center referee Farhad Dadkho awarded a penalty for a foul in the box. Midfielder Jack Blake calmly stepped up and slotted it home just by the outstretched arms of Josh Cohen to give the Monarchs a 0-1 advantage. It was hard to see from my vantage point whether it was a penalty or not, but it certainly appeared to be a soft call.
Republic would muster up a few chances of their own in the first half, most notably in the 26th minute on a beautiful ball from newcomer Ray Saari that Monarchs goalkeeper David Ochoa was barely able to clear. Saari was at it again in the 44th minute on another free kick from the corner that bounced around the box before being cleared out.
All things considered, it was a decent first half from the Quails. They dominated possession and I liked the way they pressed. They played really well in the first 20 minutes, but they lacked that spark and edge you need over 45 minutes, and unfortunately went to the locker room down a goal.
In the 60th minute, the Monarchs back line failed to clear the ball, which forward Stefano Bonomo was able to quickly pounce on. Unfortunately, Ochoa denied the shot keeping his side with the one goal advantage.
The Quails would finally break through in the 81st minute when Haris Chantzopoulos flicked in a ball off a beautiful cross from substitute Sam Werner who had just come on three minutes prior. It was a great goal and jolted life into the team.
The Republic would continue to attack over the next 10 plus minutes into stoppage time, but unfortunately, it was a little too late. Overall, the match was a bit of a mixed bag. There were flashes where they looked really good, but on the whole they were not good enough.
With the 1-1 draw, The Republic and Monarchs both move to 0-0-1 (1 point) on the season. The Republic’s next match is next Saturday, March 16 when they travel to face the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC. They will be looking to bounce back after dropping points at home.
Sacramento Republic FC: 1 goal, 12 shots, 5 shots on target, 65.3 possession, 4 corners, 1 offsides, 1 yellow card.
Real Monarchs SLC: 1 goal, 12 shots, 5 shots on target, 34.7 possession, 2 corners, 0 offsides, 3 yellow cards.
Republic FC Lineup: Josh Cohen, Shannon Gomez, Haris Chantzopoulos, Drew Skundrich, Tyler Blackwood, Villyan Bijev, Dekel Keinan, Ray Saari, Elliott Hord, Stefano Bonomo, Cameron Iwasa.
Republic FC Bench: Mitchell Taintor, Hayden Partain, Sam Werner, Jaime Villarreal, Rafael Diaz, Mario Penagos, Matt Mahoney.