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Resilient comeback: Sacramento Republic FC 2, Orange County SC 1

Republic’s winning streak now grows to six games.

Courtesy of Sacramento Republic FC

In a battle of two perennial Western Conference contenders, it was Sacramento Republic who held on and kept their winning streak alive Wednesday at Papa Murphy’s Park. Orange County struck first early. But after going a man down in the second half, the Republic were able to put two past the keeper and get the win.

The Republic came into the midweek matchup after a thrilling match on the road against Portland Timbers 2. Sacramento was in 2nd place in group A on 21 points, 3 behind Reno, and riding a five-game winning streak.

The visitors, Orange County, fell last time out against Los Dos 2-1. They sat tied with Los Dos on 18 points for 2nd place, in a tougher group B.

The visitors had this lineup to start the match:

And, Coach Briggs had this lineup for the encounter:

Orange County got the match started.

First chance of the night came to Orange County springing a counterattack off a Republic corner. A low curling effort from Darwin Jones forced Rafael Diaz into a diving save.

Not long after, Orange County struck first in the 5th minute after a botched clearance of a cross. Ugo Okoli was able to get a strike on it at the top of the box and put it past Diaz.

Decent chances came for the Republic, as they looked to respond well after the goal. Possession resulted in shots from range and crosses from the wings, but nothing lethal. The tempo was frantic during this period, with Republic applying a high press looking to capitalize on mistakes from Orange County.

This high press gave the Republic a great chance. It came in the 30th as Villyan Bijev won the ball in the midfield. That tackle sprung Cameron Iwasa into a 1-on-1 situation with the opposing keeper. Aaron Cervantes was able to smother the shot before it went anywhere.

The first yellow of the night came to Orange County’s Aodhan Quinn for a shove in the back on Rodrigo Lopez, outside the visitor’s box.

Going into the half, both sides had their fair share of opportunities. However, it was the early chance from Orange County that separated the two teams. The Republic were able to get in and around the Orange County box, but only one decent shot to show for it.

Coach Briggs made a swap at halftime with Kharlton Belmar coming in for Iwasa. This moved Bijev out left and Dariusz Formella back behind Belmar.

A straight red card was issued to Lopez in the 57th for a rough tackle through the back as the Republic were backtracking from a corner. This forced Coach Briggs to switch their formation to a 4-4-1.

Already a goal up and a man up, Orange County were looking for a second in the 65th. A decent strike from Daniel Finlayson outside the box forced Diaz to make another diving save.

Coach Briggs made a change in the 69th in the midfield, bringing in Jaime Villarreal for Sam Werner.

Going into the second water break, the Republic still looked to be the more threatening side, but they shifted to sending crosses in to try and find a man in the box.

The Republic were able to equalize in the 79th off great buildup play down the left. First shot sent in by Belmar got a deflection off Formella who put it in.

A phenomenal save from Diaz kept the match equal in the 82nd.

And then in the 87th it was Bijev who put the Republic in the lead with a great strike, fed by Villarreal.

Looking to preserve the lead, Coach Briggs made his final sub of the match bringing in Dekel Keinan for Bijev.

Somehow, Sacramento managed to not only come back, but come back a man down. This match was a great test for both clubs as they have playoff aspirations. And it was a great and gutsy win for the Republic, as they held on down the final stretch. Next up for the club is a weekend clash against the other Group A leaders, Reno.

Final Stats:

Sacramento Republic FC: 2 goals, 19 shots, 5 shots on target, 51.7% possession, 4 corners, 1 offsides, 1 yellow card, 1 red card

Orange County SC: 1 goal, 18 shots, 5 shots on target, 48.3% possession, 7 corners, 3 offsides, 2 yellow cards, 0 red cards

Republic FC Lineup: Rafael Diaz, Jordan McCrary, Hayden Sargis, Matt Mahoney, Ashkanov Apollon, Rodrigo Lopez, Drew Skundrich, Sam Werner (OUT, 69’), Villyan Bijev (OUT, 90’), Cameron Iwasa (OUT, 45’), Dariusz Formella

Republic FC Bench: Brady Scott, Shannon Gomez, Tomas Hilliard-Arce, Kharlton Belmar (IN, 45’), Dekel Keinan (IN, 90’), Jaime Villarreal (IN, 69’), Rafael Jauregui

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