Sacramento Republic FC snapped their losing streak, but they ultimately had to settle for a draw, as they played Oakland Roots to a 3-3 tie on Wednesday at Heart Health Park.
While Sac Republic have been busy integrating newcomers this season, it was three returning players who notched the goals on the night, and they got a first taste of facing Oakland, who look like they’ll be legit in their expansion season in the USL Championship.
Mark Briggs brought in newcomer Chris Gloster for his debut, and recalled Tucker Bone and Cameron Iwasa to the starting XI for Sac Republic. He also gave Hayden Sargis his season debut and Jordan McCrary got his first start of the season.
Both teams were up for it early, and McCrary nearly opened the scoring with a bullet header at the far post off Iwasa’s cross in the 15th minute, but the shot went just wide of the mark.
Two minutes later, Iwasa was bundled over by Oakland defender Max Ornstil, and while Sac Republic thought they were getting a penalty, the referee called the foul just outside the 18-yard box.
Dariusz Formella scored a beautiful indirect free kick off that, with tiny touches from Jaime Villarreal and Luis Felipe setting up Formella’s bomb to make it 1-0 for the home side.
But the lead didn’t last long, as a miscue in the back lead to Oakland tying the game in the 26th minute courtesy of Chuy Enriquez. Republic FC goalkeeper Tomas Gomez came out and tried to strip the ball but he didn’t get it cleanly, and it was a 1-1 game.
Then Oakland grabbed the lead in the 40th minute with a golazo by Ariel Mbumba. A partially-cleared corner kick made its way to the midfielder, who dribbled a bit then ran onto a long touch at an angle and absolutely crushed it to make it 2-1 to the visitors.
The Oakland goals seemed to take the wind out of Sac Republic’s sails, and they went into the halftime break presumably looking to regroup and pick up the quick equalizer.
Duke Lacroix entered the game in the 54th minute for Gloster, who had a pretty sharp first half in his debut with Republic FC.
Sacramento nearly got a sneak goal in the 56th minute, as a last-ditch tackle from defender Dan Casey made its way through traffic and up to McCrary, who had only the goalkeeper to beat but couldn’t get the ball in the net.
Iwasa got the score at the hour mark, with a shot at the half moon above the box, to open his account for the 2021 season and it was a timely strike.
But Oakland took the lead again in the 66th minute. Akeem O’Connor-Ward had a shot that was blocked by Gomez from close range, but Jeremy Bokila headed in the rebound out of the air.
And yet...Sac Republic tied it up almost right away, as McCrary, who had an active night in attack finally got his goal, chesting down Lacroix’s cross then hitting it pure at the far post.
Shortly after that, Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu replaced Villarreal and Pete Pennanen entered the game for Bone. In the 79th minute, McCrary exited after absorbing a brutal tackle, with Nabi Kibunguchy making his debut off the bench for Sac Republic.
The teams tried to find a last go-ahead goal, but Iwasa’s look in the 90th minute off Kibunguchy’s cross was saved by Oakland goalkeeper Luis Barraza. In the 95th minute, Kibunguchy had another great cross, and Pennanen’s header was deflected and clanged off the crossbar, the game ending moments later with the stalemate.
Obviously I think Sac Republic will be unhappy with conceding three goals, including two that tied up the game, but games like these happen at times in the season and the good news is that Sac Republic got a result and they scored three times themselves. This is a performance to build on and hopefully fully right the ship moving forward.
Sacramento will take on Orange County for the second time in a few weeks on Saturday in their next scheduled action, this time at Heart Health Park. Given OCSC won the game 1-0 last time these teams played, Republic FC will certainly want to grab three points this time around.
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