Sacramento Republic FC improved on their last road outing Saturday night, but their struggles to score in 2020 continue, as they tied San Diego Loyal 0-0 at Torero Stadium in San Diego.
The draw gives Sac Republic their first result on the road of the season, after the loss to LA Galaxy II a week ago. And while the defense and a new goalkeeper picked up a clean sheet on the night, Sacramento’s 11-5 edge in shots did not lead to an edge in the goals column and the club was kept off the board for the second straight game.
Mark Briggs made several changes for his SRFC starting XI, with Rafael Diaz replacing an injured Adam Grinwis in goal and Cameron Iwasa and Kharlton Belmar getting the starting nod, Villyan Bijev going to the bench. Rodrigo Lopez was in the 18 but didn’t play at all.
Iwasa nearly scored in the 29th minute, his shot almost squirting past Jon Kempin in San Diego’s goal, but Kempin recovered to stop it from going in along the near post.
Just before halftime, Diaz stepped up to keep San Diego off the board, making a reaction save off Jack Metcalf’s shot, and the teams entered the halftime break scoreless.
Republic FC got a good look in the 50th minute, with Belmar sending in a diagonal cross to Sam Werner, whose diving header sailed wide of the mark.
With Sacramento struggling to really build up passes and the game remaining scoreless, it was rather surprising Briggs didn’t make his first substitution until the 72nd minute, when Bijev replaced Dariusz Formella.
Drew Skundrich tried to make a play on the ball in the 88th minute, and on his slide he knocked into Kempin, who was diving on top of the ball. Skundrich did not appear to be looking to hurt Kempin, but San Diego players jumped on him in reaction to the contact. It was dangerous contact and honestly could have gone either way, but Skundrich escaped with a yellow card in the end, and Kempin continued on.
In stoppage time, Bijev had a tricky shot that went through traffic and trickled just wide of the mark. Rather surprisingly, Bijev was the only substitute on the night, with coaches allowed five subs in games right now.
As we start to get a sample size of games, some trends are emerging for Sac Republic. The defense is finding some consistent form, even with Diaz stepping in between the posts, but the midfield is struggling to work a buildup and even with a majority of shots in most games, they’re having difficulty burying the chances. We’ll see if they can work on this and find the breakthrough in the coming weeks.
Sac Republic are next scheduled to be in action next Saturday, when they will play Portland Timbers 2 for the first time in 2020. A third straight road game — can SRFC find a win away from home in Portland? We’ll see.
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