Sacramento Republic FC hosted Fresno FC Wednesday evening at Papa Murphy’s Park in a third round matchup of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup competition. With a win, the Republic would earn the right to face a Major League Soccer team in the fourth round of the competition (opponent and location to be decided via a draw on May 30 at 8am).
But first the Republic needed to get past a super solid Fresno side, who has been one of the best sides in the Western Conference this season, and arguably one of the best in all of USL Championship.
Republic FC Manager Simon Elliott fielded the following starting XI. Of note, Tyler Blackwood was out with a rib injury and Hayden Partain was out for personal reasons.
The first chance of the match came in the 15th minute on a Fresno corner kick from the northeast corner, but defender Sam Strong’s header missed just left of goal.
The Republic would have their own chance in the 26th minute on a flurry of shots in front of goal after a corner was taken. Fresno was able to eventually clear to keep the match scoreless.
Other than those chances, that was about the extent of the action for the first half. Fresno was the clear aggressor and the Quails struggled to hold possession. All things considered, it was an overall snoozy first half.
In the 61st minute, Elliott brought on Villyan Bijev who has been sidelined with a hamstring injury. His last appearance for the Republic was on April 7 in a 1-0 home win against Austin Bold FC where he logged 70 minutes, so it had been a while.
In the 66th minute, it appeared that the Republic went ahead on what was an end-to-end individual effort from Sam Werner. His shot hit the top of the cross bar and ricocheted straight down appearing to land a foot inside the line. The replay confirmed that the ball did in fact cross the line, but in the end, the referee missed it.
The two sides would play a full 90 minutes without scoring, pushing the match to two 15 minute extra time sessions. Just when you thought it was destined for penalty kicks, Sam Werner crossed a ball that Stefano Bonomo powerfully headed in to give the Quails a 1-0 victory, and with it, a trip to the fourth round of the Open Cup. You can watch the match highlights below (fast forward to the 3 minute mark to watch the game winner).
Republic FC Lineup: Josh Cohen, Shannon Gomez, Mitchell Taintor, Haris Chantzopoulos, Sam Werner, Jaime Villarreal (OUT, 105’), Ray Saari, Elliott Hord (OUT, 61’), Stefano Bonomo, Jordan McCrary, and Cameron Iwasa.
Republic FC Bench: Rafael Diaz, Dekel Keinan, Matt Mahoney, Eddy Berumen, Drew Skunrich (IN, 105’), Villyan Bijev (IN, 60’) and Mario Penago.
Prior to the match, the Republic announce that forward Roberto Hategan and the club had mutually agreed to part ways. As fans know, Hategan was the youngest player signed by the Republic at the age of 16 in July 2017. He was also the first player from the club’s academy to be signed to a professional contract.