Sacramento Republic FC won their first game of the 2020 USL Championship season, as Cameron Iwasa’s stoppage-time penalty guided them to a 1-0 win over Reno 1868 FC Sunday.
It was a largely frustrating performance, and it looked like the club would have to settle for a third-straight draw on the season, but the late penalty was deserved on balance for the efforts the home side had in the game and they will certainly get a boost for grinding out a victory on the night.
Mark Briggs made a few changes to his SRFC lineup, starting Villyan Bijev, Sam Werner and Jaime Villarreal all getting the nod to start after coming off the bench in the previous game.
The opening spell was pretty even, but Sacramento had better looks on goal, with Sam Werner having a header float over the goal and Jaime Villarreal’s strike from outside the box force a save from Reno GK Ben Beaury in the first 20 minutes.
Sacramento had a little less possession than Reno in the first half, but a huge edge in shots, Republic FC having 11 (five on target) compared to Reno’s three (zero on target).
In the second half, Reno seemed to find the game a bit better and Sacramento seems unable to break through to score. Briggs went attacking with his first subs, bringing on Cameron Iwasa and Kharlton Belmar in the 63rd minute to bring a new element to the attack.
Just before the 70th minute, Villarreal was brought down in the box and appeared to get injured in a collision, but no penalty was called for Sacramento. On the bright side, Villarreal was able to continue in the match.
In the 74th minute, Reno almost scored an own goal off Rodrigo Lopez’s looping early ball, and Tomas Hilliard-Arce’s subsequent shot off the rebound was saved as well by Beaury.
In the 91st minute, Iwasa drew a penalty, as his low cross was blocked with the arm by Thomas Janjigian. Iwasa stepped up to take the spot kick himself, and scored to win the game.
Again, it was often frustrating from a Sacramento perspective, but credit to them for fighting to the end, getting a clean sheet, and finding the goal to win the game. Considering their attacking dominance on the night, the result was ultimately deserved, and Briggs’ decision to bring Iwasa in fresh off the bench was vindicated.
Sacramento will next take on one of their non-group opponents, in old rival LA Galaxy II, on Saturday. Los Dos are very youthful right now, but they are an MLS2 team that can’t be taken lightly, so it could be another tricky matchup for Sac Republic. Time will tell.
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