Sacramento Republic FC lost their first game of the 2021 USL Championship regular season, with a narrow 1-0 defeat against Orange County SC at Championship Soccer Stadium in Irvine.
Both teams battled in this one, with only a first-half goal from the home side being the difference on the night. Sac Republic didn’t play badly, but they also didn’t test Orange County’s backline and goalkeeper enough to really push them to the brink, either.
Little surprise, Mark Briggs did not mess with a good thing, keeping his starting lineup consistent from the last game, 10 days ago.
Pete Pennanen had the first good look for Sacramento, with a sharp shot five minutes in that tested OCSC goalkeeper Patrick Rakovsky, but the backstopper made the block.
Kharlton Belmar had a look in the 28th minute, but Rakovsky stopped it easily, with OCSC getting most of the ball to that point in the game.
But Orange County found the breakthrough, scoring in the 33rd minute, Thomas Enevoldsen setting up Chris Wehan, who beat Tomas Gomez rather easily.
The hometown kid @wehan_14 scores on his return! #OCvSAC | @orangecountysc pic.twitter.com/h046LShsIA— USL Championship (@USLChampionship) May 23, 2021
The teams went to halftime with Sacramento facing a 1-0 deficit. They weren’t outstanding, but they weren’t out of the game, either, and it was a good test considering it was the first deficit of the season for Republic FC.
Fatai Alashe replaced Belmar before the 2nd half kickoff, it’s unclear if Belmar had a knock but he definitely took his share of contact in the 1st half. The second sub for Republic FC was Cameron Iwasa for Tucker Bone and Jordan McCrary making his season debut in place of Duke LaCroix. Jaime Villarreal entered the game in the 74th minute for Pennanen.
Sacramento pushed as the 2nd half wore on for an equalizer, and really pinned OCSC deep, but they couldn’t find the breakthrough, only managing two shots on target for all their effort.
It was a frustrating performance for Sac Republic, who couldn’t find a way to break down Orange County’s compact defense. Again, they weren’t bad on the night, and it was only one moment that changed the game, but Briggs and company will definitely rue not getting more shots on target and really pushing Orange County.
Republic FC return home for their next game, next Saturday against Phoenix Rising. That one is sure to be a cracker, buckle up.
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