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Republic FC Resume 2020 Season with a 3-3 Draw

Photo via The Sacramento Republic FC

Following their home opener against Tulsa back in March, the Sacramento Republic FC, like the rest of the world, found their season at an abrupt pause due to COVID-19. Months later, after meticulous planning by the USL, soccer returned to Sacramento with a 3-3 draw between the Republic and the Tacoma Defiance.

The match, played in an empty stadium at Papa Murphy’s Park, got off to a disastrous start for Sacramento, who conceded a Tacoma goal in the opening minute of play.

It didn’t take long for Sacramento to respond as returning Republic FC legend Rodrigo Lopez was taken down in the box, earning his club a penalty. Forward Dariusz Formella stepped up to the spot and calmly leveled the match.

15 minutes later, Sacramento took the lead on a free header from defender Tomas Hillard-Arce, a clean finish made easy by a perfect cross from Lopez in the corner.

With the exception of the first minute, the Republic were in complete control through the first half. Sacramento capped off the 45 minutes with their third goal, beginning with a beautiful ball from midfielder, and captain, Drew Skundrich.

Formella earned his brace, defender Jordan McCrary was credited with his first assist, and Sacramento had turned a horrible start into a comfortable halftime lead.

To Tacoma’s credit, the Defiance lived up to their name with some excellent halftime adjustments from head coach Chris Little. Immediately, Tacoma had more energy, their passing was crisp, and their defense had plugged the holes in the opening minutes of the second half.

But it was a sensational goal off the foot of Tacoma midfielder Jesse Daley in the 57th minute that really brought the Defiance back to life.

Tacoma continued to push for their third goal, surviving a couple of great chances by Republic forward Cameron Iwasa and midfielder Villyan Bijev that were missed just wide. As Sacramento’s defense began to tire late in the match, the Defiance got their breakthrough, taking advantage of a sloppy giveaway in a dangerous area.

Less than a minute later, Tacoma would’ve taken the lead had it not been for Republic keeper Adam Grinwiss. Both sides pushed for the winning goal in extra time, but were forced to settle on a draw.

Sacramento defender Hillard-Arce called the match a “complete failure” and “letdown”, saying his pride of scoring a goal was erased by his frustrations at conceding three. Republic head coach Mark Briggs expressed his disappointment with the draw, calling his side “sloppy” and their defense “unacceptable”.

So Sacramento and Tacoma resume play in the USL Championship Group A with a point. The Republic will host rival Reno 1868 FC, who sits in first place in the group with three points, on Sunday evening.