Red Cards & More Heroics Lead to Sacramento’s 6th Straight Win
The Sacramento Republic FC have a flair for the dramatic. Coming off an extra time game-winner from academy player Julian “Juju” Chavez in Portland last week, Sacramento triumphed over Orange County SC Wednesday night thanks to a pair of late goals, despite being down a man. The Republic have now won six straight matches, and will carry their hot run of form into Saturday’s crucial meeting with Reno.
Before the Republic could settle into their return to Papa Murphys Park, Orange County opened up the scoring with a goal from Sean Okoli in the 5th minute. It’s the 2nd time this season Sacramento has conceded an opening goal in the first five minutes at home this season.
Sacramento had their fair share of chances in the first half, including a one-on-one opportunity for striker Cameron Iwasa, but Orange County keeper Aaron Cervantes put his body on the line to keep the Republic scoreless after 45 minutes.
Republic FC head coach Mark Briggs made a change to start the 2nd half, bringing in speedy forward Kharlton Belmar for Iwasa. Belmar immediately inserted himself into the action, with a free header in the box that was saved by Cervantes.
As the match went on, and Sacramento remained scoreless, things became chippy between both clubs, reaching a boiling point when Republic veteran Rodrigo Lopez was issued a red card for a hard tackle from behind.
Lopez was immediately sent off, putting Sacramento on 10 men for the remainder of the match. The Republic will also be without their playmaking midfielder on Saturday night due to the one match suspension that’s issued with the red card.
Before the match concluded, Lopez took to twitter from the locker room to explain his intentions on the tackle.
You rarely see a club who is down a man score a goal against full strength opposition, let alone two, but there is something magical about this Republic FC squad when they face adversity. Lopez’s ejection appeared to light a fire under the rest of the roster, who just a handful of minutes later, finally found their breakthrough off a low driven strike from Belmar & a clever flick from Darik Formella.
Initially the goal was credited to Belmar, but was later awarded to Formella with the assist given to Kharlton. But the Republic weren’t done. They continued to put the pressure on Orange County’s back line in the closing minutes. In the 87th minute, winger Villyan Bijev found some space in the box, and slotted the game-winner near post for his 2nd goal of the season.
“We’re the Indomitable Club, right? We’re the Indomitable City and I thought the players showed that indomitable spirit, that never say die attitude and ultimately that’s what ended up getting us three points,” said Coach Briggs. “I’m extremely proud of the players, extremely proud of everyone associated with the club to be quite honest. That was a great result for everyone.”
The Republic are back in action Saturday night in a massive match against Reno 1868 FC, who are tied with Sacramento at the top of the table with 24 points on the season. As the playoffs approach, don’t miss the drama from Papa Murphys Park, with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 PM.