Sacramento Republic FC hosted Portland Timbers 2 (T2) Saturday night under the bright lights of Papa Murphy’s Park and the California State Fair. It was the first of three matches to be played during the State Fair. Both teams came into the match struggling a bit. T2 were 1-3-2 over their last six matches, and the Republic had dropped their last two following a stretch where they went undefeated in four-consecutive league matches.
Republic FC Manager Simon Elliott fielded the following starting XI. Of note, it was the first start for Juan Barahona with the Republic and Cameron Iwasa was out of the lineup.
Our starting XI vs @TimbersFC2 ⚽️— Republic FC (@SacRepublicFC) July 14, 2019
Watch live on KQCA My58, Estrella TV Sacramento and ESPN+.#SACvPOR | #FlyTheFlag pic.twitter.com/aFXvFDMwF3
The Republic came out on the front foot and had the first solid chance of the match in the 18th minute when Villyan Bijev sent a beautiful cross into the box that Tyler Blackwood missed wide right. It’s probably one that Blackwood would want back.
Seven minutes later, the Republic mustered another opportunity when Hayden Partain pounced on a loose ball 35 yards out from goal. He immediately pushed it forward into a 1v1 opportunity against T2 goalkeeper Jake Leeker, but his shot sailed just left of the post.
The Quails would finally break through in the 41st minute when Barahona sent a left-footed cross in that Hayden Partain controlled off his chest and quickly hammered the ball home to give the Republic a 1-0 lead.
First start for @JuanBarahona96 ✅— Republic FC (@SacRepublicFC) July 14, 2019
First assist for him ✅
Another USL Championship goal for @hayden_partain ✅ pic.twitter.com/6bPSWs7jBD
The head referee would blow his whistle on the first half shortly after, and the Republic would go into the locker room with a much-deserved lead.
In the 59th minute, Republic defender Matt Mahoney made perhaps the save of the year when he cleared out on the line what was a sure goal for T2. Check it out for yourself.
SAVED ON THE LINE.— Republic FC (@SacRepublicFC) July 14, 2019
Appreciate you, @Matt_mahoney18. ☺️ pic.twitter.com/brUeqKGBtH
In the 66th minute, a penalty was called against Leeker for taking down Sam Werner in the box (seemed to be a questionable call at best). With Iwasa on the bench, Werner stepped up to take the penalty, but his shot emphatically hit the crossbar and it was cleared out by T2.
T2 gave the Republic all they could handle over the remaining 25 minutes, but the home side would hold on to win 1-0 in front of a sellout crowd.
Overall, there were some missed chances, the defense was generally good (minus a few spells), but anyway you slice it, it was a much-needed three points in a tight Western Conference. Plus, the win assured the Republic would not drop three straight. With the win, the Republic move to 8-7-2 (26 points) and in eighth place, while T2 fall to 7-5-7 (28 points) and remain in fifth place.
Republic’s next match is Tuesday, July 16 when the face Club América U-20 in a friendly. Their next USL Championship league match is Saturday, July 20 when they travel to face Rio Grande Valley FC. The match is scheduled to kick off at 5:30pm.
Sacramento Republic FC: 1 goal, 13 shots, 4 shots on target, 45.2 possession, 2 corners, 6 offsides, 1 yellow card.
Portland Timbers 2: 0 goals, 8 shots, 3 shots on target, 44.4 possession, 7 corners, 0 offsides, 6 yellow cards.
Republic FC Lineup: Josh Cohen, Jordan McCrary (OUT, 72’), Haris Chantzopoulos, Matt Mahoney, Mitchell Taintor, Juan Barahona (OUT, 72’), Hayden Partain, Jaime Villarreal, Sam Werner, Villyan Bijev (OUT, 84’) and Tyler Blackwood.
Republic FC Bench: Rafael Diaz, Shannon Gomez (IN, 72’), Drew Skundrich, Ray Saari (IN, 84’), Keven Aleman, Stefano Bonomo and Cameron Iwasa (IN, 72’).