Over the span of seven days, the people of Sacramento have had mixed emotions regarding its favorite football club, Sacramento Republic FC. An untimely and not ideal loss to the team abiding in Los Angeles, LA Galaxy II, put a portion of the fan base over the edge as Sacramento is struggling to cross the finish line at 10th place in the Western Conference.
Statistically, this has been one of, if not THE, worst season to date for the Quails. For most clubs, that spells disaster. Luckily for Sacramento, the Republic has been one of the winningest franchises in the entire USL. They have yet to miss the playoffs, and entering the playoffs in 10th place is a likely outcome.
Five days later, the city was hit with some potentially exciting news from the Sacramento Bee regarding the MLS expansion. Some believed the expansion bid was being finalized and were eventually let down when they discovered the initial report was slightly misleading. It would appear that a deal is getting close, but isn’t quite done just yet. Sacramento would have to put those two things aside and focus however as a matchup with playoff implications came to Papa Murphy’s Park Saturday night.
The Republic came in tonight hoping to defeat a struggling Tacoma Defiance team in order to make up for last week’s loss and put the potential MLS news behind them. Sacramento has had a lot of good fortune playing against Tacoma with a 7-0-0 record against the Washington-based club at home and there was good reason to believe Sacramento would leave tonight victorious.
Tacoma entered the match sitting at last place in the Western Conference with only 20 points; 14 behind Sacramento. Tacoma, however came in coming off a flaming hot victory against San Antonio who is currently fighting to get into the playoffs as well and sits at 11th place with 34 points. Although Tacoma had been out of the playoff picture for some time, their effort and desire to upset superior clubs was a real threat.
With a strangely cool night at the edge of summer, Sacramento started the match off against Tacoma aggressively, attacking the inside of the box with accurate, short passes within striking range and coming away with four solid opportunities within the first ten minutes resulting in a shot attempt by Cameron Iwasa that went two feet above the crossbar and two shots on goal; a header by Thomas Enevoldsen and a chip shot by Iwasa, both deflected away by Tacoma’s goalie, Trey Muse.
With the early success and aggressive style of play Sacramento Republic started the game with, it was only a matter of time they would score the first goal of the night in the 13th minute as Jordan McCrary crossed the ball on the ground toward the middle of the box where newcomer Enevoldsen was waiting to aggressively tap in the easy goal for a 1-0 early lead.
And for those who want to feel like they were in the crowd:
With multiple flops, fouls and an odd yellow card drawn by Tacoma, the irregularity would not slow the Quails down for the remainder of the first half as far as play style and tempo. The Republic would continue to put the pressure on Tacoma’s goalie with multiple crosses, corners, deep penetration within the box, and a couple long, accurate strike attempts by midfielders Drew Skundrich and Keven Aleman.
With the first half coming to a close, the refs signaled for an additional three minutes of extra time. Sacramento would need every last second of that extra time to add to their lead as Matt Mahoney was able to find Enevoldsen wide open down the middle of the field for a counter attack with Iwasa running right next to him. As the Tacoma defense converged onto Enevoldsen as he approached the box, he wisely tapped it toward Iwasa who had enough room to shoot a powerful strike in the back on the net for a 45th minute goal, giving the Republic a 2-0 lead entering the locker room.
With an astonishing first half behind them, Sacramento started the second half with the intent to resist complacency as they continued their aggressive ways by passing through the Tacoma defense with frequency that gave their defense the appearance of swish cheese.
During the 56th minute, Jordan McCrary added another spectacular pass to his night by locating Iwasa, who found himself one on one against Tacoma’s defender, Ever Rubio, and took advantage by quickly nutmegging Rubio to set himself free for a breakaway against Muse. As Iwasa approached the Defiance’s box, he attempted a wide open shot but was denied by Muse’s heads up save thus preventing a would-be 3-0 lead for Sacramento.
We want this on an endless loop pic.twitter.com/JLZdcuehtT— Republic FC (@SacRepublicFC) September 8, 2019
Twenty minutes later, Sacramento was given another golden opportunity to add to their lead as Iwasa found himself deep into Tacoma territory and just outside the box. With three defenders surrounging him, Iwasa hesitated and drilled a low cross that bounced off the opposite goal pole and deflected right toward an opportunistic Enevoldsen who easily drilled the ball into the back on the net for a 3-0 lead and a dagger into the hearts of the young Tacoma Defiance.
As the whistle sounded and the match came to an end, the 3-0 victory for Sacramento was a dominant one; one so dominant, Shuttleworth’s first official save came in the 87the minute and was an easy one at that. The Republic FC was able to end the night with high confidence and a huge sigh by adding three points to their total and starting tomorrow with 37 points and a continued undefeated home streak against Tacoma at 8-0-0. So with tonight’s victory, be sure to celebrate with a White Claw and go to sleep happy!
INTERESTING STATS OF THE NIGHT:
- Thomas Enevoldsen now has 4 goals in his first 2 home matches
- Cameron Iwasa now has 13 goals on the season
- Bobby Shuttleworth only had one save on the night and produced a clean sheet
- Sacramento Republic FC had 18 shots (9 on target) as a team
- Tacoma Defiance’s average player age is 21.2 years old