Sacramento Republic FC conceded two first-half goals, then picked up two red cards, as they lost 2-0 to Orange County SC on Saturday at Heart Health Park.
Sacramento’s winless run is now nine games, and the loss arrests any kind of progress the team might have felt they made midweek in a draw against Oakland Roots. While Orange County have been stellar in recent months, the latest poor result has to be a major concern for Sac Republic.
Coming in, Sacramento head coach Mark Briggs had a new wrinkle in his lineup for this game, bringing in Jordan McCrary to play as a wide forward, with Nabi Kibunguchy starting at right back.
Orange County got off to a quick start, with Chris Wehan chesting down Nathan Smith’s cross and slotted it past Tomas Gomez to make it 1-0 just seven minutes in the match.
Another for the hometown kid @wehan_14! #SACvOC | @orangecountysc pic.twitter.com/vsyB2bqR50— USL Championship (@USLChampionship) July 11, 2021
Smith risked getting sent off in the 27th minute, as he and McCrary came together on a 50-50 with the OCSC defender catching McCrary with a high boot. In the end, the game stayed 11-v-11, Smith seeing just yellow for the play.
Orange County made it 2-0 in the 37th minute, with Wehan setting up Brian Iloski, the diminutive attacker making no mistake.
It's @wehan_14 again as he puts it on a plate for @Iloskibrian ️#SACvOC | @orangecountysc pic.twitter.com/AVw7Evg7DS— USL Championship (@USLChampionship) July 11, 2021
Sac Republic nearly clawed a goal back in the 41st minute, but McCrary’s attempt was initially saved by Orange County GK Patrick Rakovsky before it was cleared off the line by an OCSC defender.
CHANCE! McCrary with a header on goal but it's blocked. #SACvOC pic.twitter.com/P3ulogOqqa— Republic FC (@SacRepublicFC) July 11, 2021
In first-half stoppage time, Kibunguchy was shown a straight red card for an apparent DOGSO tackle on Iloski. The call looked harsh, with Dan Casey in the immediate vicinity, but the call stood and Kibunguchy had a very early shower before halftime.
Briggs made two changes to open the 2nd half, with Duke Lacroix replacing Shannon Gomez and Luis Felipe entering in place of Pete Pennanen.
With a two-goal and man edge, Orange County were content to pass the ball around the back and invite the press from Republic FC in the 2nd half, but the home side weren’t too eager to formally press, opting to interrupt passing lanes and try and pick their moments.
Cameron Iwasa was the third substitute just before the hour mark, entering the game for Darek Formella, who had a tough night by his standards. A few minutes later, Tucker Bone replaced Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu. Finally, Mario Penagos came on for the final quarter-hour in place of Fatai Alashe, who seemed to be gassed or perhaps picked up a knock.
Things got worse in the 79th minute, when Mitchell Taintor picked up his second yellow card of the night for a foul on Brent Richards, and was sent off. Taintor was fired up and argued with the referee on his way off the field, so he could face more discipline, potentially, but the second ejection took Sacramento down to nine men for the final 10 minutes.
Needless to say, this was a tough game to watch from a Sacramento perspective. I think they can certainly feel hard done by on Kibunguchy’s red card, and perhaps Taintor’s too, but they had already dug a huge hole for themselves by that point against a team in full form, and the frustration truly boiled over. You can blame bad luck, but many of Sacramento’s wounds were self-inflicted in conceding two early goals, and that should be remembered in discussing what could credibly be called inconsistent officiating in this one.
Sac Republic will be back in action on Wednesday against Las Vegas Lights in Las Vegas. Vegas have won two straight games, so we’ll see if that game will be the slumpbuster for Republic FC, or if their troubles will rumble on.
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