(Sacramento, Calif. April 18, 2018) – Two second-half goals from Cameron Iwasa and Villyan Bijev helped Republic FC overcome 1-0 deficit to defeat Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC for the first time in club history and maintain Sacramento’s undefeated start to the 2018 season.
The visitors did not make it easy for Republic FC to extend its record start to a season (4-0-2). Switchbacks FC came into the match after beating Reno 1868 FC 4-0 over the weekend and picked up where they left off. Forward AJ Ajeakwa had two great chances early in the first half, but Republic FC keeper Josh Cohen made the save on both counts.
Colorado Springs broke the deadlock in the 28th minute through a corner kick from the left wing. Captain Josh Suggs’ cross found forward Shane Malcolm who beat his mark in the air to head home and put his side ahead. Republic FC was unable to produce many quality chances during the first half and went into halftime down a goal.
Eight minutes into the second half, Sacramento nearly equalized through Cameron Iwasa. The UC Irivine product received the ball at the top of the box before sliding a through ball through the defense to midfielder Adam Moffat. The Scotsman was able to run onto it and poke a shot on goal, but Moise Pouaty and the Switchbacks FC defense cleared the danger.
Iwasa continued to threaten and found the equalizer 64th minute, getting behind the defense to beat Pouaty at the far post with a strong right-footed strike. Carlos Rodriguez received the assist on the play, his first of the season. Iwasa’s equalizer was his second goal of the season and his 15th all-time in USL play with Republic FC, tying him with Tommy Stewart for second-most goals for the club.
Republic FC completed its comeback in the 73rd minute through a brilliant individual play from Villyan Bijev. Iwasa found Bijev out wide on the left side and the Bulgarian dribbled past his defender before slotting the go-ahead goal through Pouaty’s legs. Bijev’s first goal of the season proved to be the match-winner for Republic FC, giving them all three points from the 2-1 victory over Switchbacks FC.
“It was a tale of two halves,” said Republic FC Head Coach Simon Elliott. “I think the longer the season goes on, teams are going to be prepared for us. We got there, but we made it a little harder than it needed to be.”
“We try and prepare appropriately for every team that we play. We wanted to see what we were doing in the second half for the whole 90 minutes. Obviously, take that with a grain of salt because we’re not going to be able to do it for 90 minutes, but there needs to be more of that in the first half.”