Sacramento Republic FC defeated Fresno FC 1-0 last night in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in dramatic fashion. Boy is that an understatement. Just when everyone thought the match was headed for penalty kicks, Sam Werner sent a low cross into the box that forward Stefano Bonomo sharply headed in as the final whistle blew sending the Republic into a fourth round match up against the San Jose Earthquakes.
Below are reactions from Republic Manager Simon Elliott and Bonomo following the match:
His general thoughts on the match...
Interesting game. Really pleased for the guys. [They] have been working really hard in training. Delighted for Stefano because he’s stayed positive and he’s worked really hard for the team, and really hard in training to put himself in good positions to score goals and he gets his reward tonight.
I thought Fresno played really smart. It’s hard to play Sunday in Seattle and then come here on a Wednesday and put in a performance, and I thought they played really smart and played really well. To be honest, we are delighted that we won, but I feel a little bit bad that they had to lose because I thought it was a really smart, savvy performance from them.
The match seemed to turn in the Republic’s favor when Villyan came on in the 60th minute. How great is to have him back in the fold, and what did you see out of him?
[Villyan] is a quality player. He’s intelligent. He’s got a good first touch and good range. He actually defends well when he’s tuned in and he creates in the final third. We’re delighted to have him back and teams of weary of him and know what he can do.
You certainly saw it in extra time...when he get some open space, he’s hard to contain. I do think he’s still trying to find his feet a little bit. It’s tough after a month out. You just can’t get straight back into it, but he will have more training tomorrow and on Friday, maybe some time over the weekend and some more training next week, and then I think you will see the old Villyan pretty soon.
A player like that tends to have the ability to open up games.
How do you build off tonight heading back into league play?
We got to recover tomorrow and turn around and go again, but I think we take confidence in the fact that we kept going, kept going, kept going, and found a way. That’s what you have to do. We talk about this all the time...this is a tough league. Good coaching, good players, and you have to find a way. It’s usually the team with the best mentality that comes out on top.
What are you feeding Sam (Werner) to give him all this energy out there?
[Laughs] I think he’s had heavy minutes, and you’re right, he just keeps going. His standards have been high all year. His challenge is to keep them high the rest the year. I think he can do it. He prepares himself well on and off the pitch, and I don’t feed him breakfast. That’s not me. He takes care of his own breakfast.
But I think he’s a little bit annoyed. Like he feels like he should have been playing last year and it didn’t work out for whatever reason, and I think he’s got a point to prove. That’s always good when you have players with a point to prove. You saw what Cam (Iwasa) could do last year when he had a point to prove when he came back from Kansas City, so that’s what it looks like to me. So far he’s proving it.
Congratulations on the game winner. Can you walk us through that final sequence?
Yeah...actually, not really [laughs]. I was pretty dizzy and pretty tired. I just remember a cross came in, it went back out wide, then Sam put it back in again...a great ball and I just re-directed it on target. That’s all I could do from that point on. It went into the back of the net and I was elated.
How does it feel to get this win and move on to the next round of the Open Cup?
I mean, amazing. Anytime you are in a competition like this, you want to make it as far as you can to prove to others that you’re the best team in this league, prove to MLS that you belong there, and we have an opportunity for that now, so why not take it right?