FRESNO, Calif. (June 13, 2018) — Luis Espino’s first-half goal was enough to see Sacramento Republic FC defeat Fresno FC on the road on a Wednesday night where temperatures reached 99 degrees at kickoff.
Fresno had the first chance at goal in the 22nd minute when Noah Verhoeven tested Josh Cohen with a long-range effort after a deflected cross fell to his feet, but the Sacramento keeper made an easy save of the shot.
Republic FC then opened the scoring in the 37th minute when Luis Espino capitalized on a rebound from a Jure Matjasic shot. Justin Schmidt filtered a ball into the box to Matjasic, who with his back toward goal, turned past two defenders to fire a shot that Cochran was able to save, but the Fresno keeper let up a rebound that Espino simply tapped home to put his side ahead.
After a slow start to the second half, Sacramento nearly went ahead on two occasions in the 67th minute. First, Christian Eissele slipped Matjasic a through ball into the box and the Slovenian midfielder fired a shot at Cochran’s near post that bounced off the keeper’s chest. The rebound made its way to Jaime Villarreal on the edge of the box and the former LA Galaxy player curled a long-range effort toward the top-right corner of goal that forced a diving save from Cochran.
Fresno reacted and almost equalized just two minutes later when Jose Cuevas fired a powerful shot from about 40 yards out that sailed just wide of Cohen’s goal.
Villyan Bijev, who moved to Fresno from Bulgaria at age five, nearly scored against his hometown’s club in the 74th minute after taking on his defender on the right wing, cutting in to his preferred left foot and firing a shot that grazed the top of the bar.
Fresno’s Danny Barrera had a clear chance to equalize with ten minutes left to play after finding space down the right wing. With no mark on him, the former Republic FC captain tried to curl a left-footed shot towards Cohen’s far post, but his effort went well wide of goal.
Republic FC nearly doubled their lead in the 87th minute after Bijev earned a free kick on the left wing. Bijev sent a cross to the far post where an open Carlos Rodriguez was unable to keep his shot on target.
The match ended with Republic FC taking the first three points in their season series with Fresno FC. The win moves Sacramento up to t-second in the Western Conference with 28 points from 15 games. Next up for the Indomitable Club is a trip to Texas to take on San Antonio FC on Saturday, June 16.