Sacramento Republic FC and El Paso Locomotive FC hooked up Saturday night in west Texas in what was the first match between both sides in history. Locomotive FC is one of seven expansion clubs that began play in USL Championship in 2019. They are also one of two expansion teams out of Texas (Austin Bold FC being the other).
Republic FC Manager Simon Elliott fielded the following starting XI below. Of note, Rafael Diaz made his second-consecutive start between the pipes, and Cameron Iwasa made his triumphant return to the starting XI after playing limited minutes against Reno 1868 FC on Wednesday. Former Republic left back James Kiffe got the start for Locomotive FC:
The home side would strike first in the 10th minute on a goal from midfielder Calvin Rezende. Take nothing away from Rezende, but it appeared that Diaz reacted just a tad late, which may have been just enough to see the shot slide past his outstretched arms.
Republic would level in the 35th minute on a goal from Drew Skundrich, which was his first goal of the season and as a member of the Republic. The goal was started by Jaime Villarreal, who lobbed the ball forward that Iwasa headed across the goal and found Skundrich at the back post.
In the 44th minute, the Quails had a chance to go-ahead, but Iwasa’s header (on a beautiful cross from Elliott Hord) hit the near post.
The match would open up in the second half, but it was Locomotive FC who would seize control thanks to winger Jerome Kiesewetter who would score goals in the 63rd and in the 73rd minute, and with it, his first brace of the season.
Once again, the back line of the Republic completely fell apart. A backline that started so strong and seemed like a bright spot has seemingly lost its mojo. To illustrate the point, over the last four league matches, the Republic have conceded 11 goals while only scoring three. Moreover, over their last six league matches, the Republic are just 1-4-1.
It’s certainly not time to panic, especially given how wide open the Western Conference is this season, but the Republic are going to need to figure it out soon. Even without the problems in the back, offensively they are not scoring goals and seem totally out of sync. In all fairness, they are just not doing anything particularly well.
The Quails will next have a chance to turn this thing around when they host San Antonio FC on June 1 who too have struggled a bit of late. That match is slated to kickoff at 8pm.
Sacramento Republic FC: 1 goals, 13 shots, 3 shots on target, 47.1 possession, 8 corners, 6 offsides, 0 yellow cards.
El Paso Locomotive FC: 3 goals, 12 shots, 3 shots on target, 52.9 possession, 2 corners, 0 offsides, 2 yellow cards.
Republic FC Lineup: Rafael Diaz, Mitchell Taintor, Matt Mahoney, Haris Chantzopoulos, Sam Werner, Drew Skunrich, Jaime Villarreal, Elliott Hord, Stefano Bonomo, Jordan McCrary, and Cameron Iwasa.
Republic FC Bench: Josh Cohen, Shannon Gomez, Keven Aleman, Dekel Keinan, Ray Saari and Mario Penago.