Live soccer with fans (OH HOW WE’VE MISSED YOU) returned to the Capital City with Saturday’s preseason match against Real Monarchs, which Sacramento Republic won 2-0 at Papa Murphy’s Park. This was the final preseason match for the Republic before the USL Championship regular season starts properly on Friday away at Los Dos. The Republic were coming off a 5-1 drubbing of division mates Oakland Roots and were hoping to continue the momentum into the season.
Coach Briggs fielded this team to start the clash:
It was a very cagey start in the first 15 minutes, with both teams battling in the midfield, until a cheeky backheel by Kharlton Belmar broke down the Monarchs’ right flank. Low ball from a streaking Duke LaCroix got to Cameron Iwasa at the center of the box who neatly put it home.
Even if it was a preseason match, the level of physicality coming from both sides made it feel like this was a clash happening at the end of the season. Many, many late tackles from Real Monarchs attempted to halt the tempo that was trying to be built up by the Republic. The Republic, however, returned the favor with tackles of their own, some level of physicality we didn’t see as much last season.
In the 34th minute, LaCroix came close to affecting the scoreline again. A low, driven effort to the bottom left corner was blocked by the diving Monarchs keeper for a corner. And nearly again in the 36th minute as a cross from the opposite right back, Shannon Gomez got to LaCroix at the far post. His header was just wide of target and didn’t trouble the keeper.
Going into the half, the Republic felt in control of the game. The attack seemed focused on passing the ball around the midfield, trying to shift the defense, and looking to find holes down the middle. With, long balls from the backline, especially from Mitchell Taintor, aimed at either a streaking LaCroix or Gomez being a secondary course of attack. On defense, Rafael Diaz and the backline didn’t face many tests except the occasional cross or corner, but nothing threatening.
Monarchs got a decent shot at it in the 56th minute. Some buildup play down the center led to a striker controlling the ball in the box. A low effort was blocked by a quick Diaz. Monarchs followed up with another chance in the 58th minute with another shot in the box being deflected out by the Republic backline for a corner. During this action, Diaz went down, but after treatment he carried on with the subsequent corner. It seemed that the issue still lingered on for Diaz, as he was subbed off for Chuy Sanchez, giving the former academy product his first appearance for the senior side.
In the 67th minute, a late challenge on halftime sub Luis Felipe, who came on for Jaime Villarreal, gave the Republic a dangerous chance straight on at goal. First ball put in got blocked by the wall, the second ball went out for a Monarchs’ goal kick.
In the 88th, the Republic put the nail in the coffin as an over the top ball got to Dariusz Formella, who came in late for Kharlton Belmar. He put in a ball similar to the first goal as it flashed across the box and got to Iwasa, who put it away.
Overall, a great performance from the side as they looked to build momentum going into the season. Monarchs only had a couple of opportunities that tested the Diaz / Sanchez goal. And two great opportunities that were capped by Iwasa and the Republic attack. The side becoming more aggressive, and embracing the “villain” role, was apparent throughout the game as the Republic responded with tackles stopping any buildup in the midfield. Great test for the side. Next match will be in the regular season as they start the campaign away at Los Dos.
Future Matches Against Real Monarchs SLC:
June 9th - Away at Real Monarchs (7pm)
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