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Republic FC Drop Hard-Fought Battle in San Jose

Photo via Sacramento Republic FC

The Sacramento Republic FC are no strangers to facing MLS competition in the middle rounds of the US Open Cup. Over their short existence, they have taken part in upsets, close defeats, and penalty kick heart-break against some of the best clubs in the country’s top league.

Looking for redemption from the 2015 US Open Cup, where Sacramento was eliminated by the San Jose Earthquakes via penalties, the Republic brought the fight to Avaya stadium Tuesday night, further proving they belong in the conversation for MLS expansion.

Unfortunately, the 2019 US Open Cup run has come to an end for Sacramento after being defeated in Tuesday’s match 4-3. The score accurately suggests an explosive offensive showcase by both clubs, featuring a plethora of great chances, exciting goals, and lead-changing drama.

Reigning USL Team of the Week selection Sam Werner, who was also named the Republic’s player of the month of May, wasted little time getting involved. He opened the scoring with a goal just two minutes into the match.

Just eight minutes later, San Jose’s Magnus Eriksson beat Sacramento keeper Josh Cohen to even the score.

Republic winger Villyan Bijev, who recently returned from injury, had a free kick from just outside of the box, and once again put Sacramento on top with a beauty in the 14th minute.

Three goals in 14 minutes. This match looked to have all the makings of an instant classic. And it was. San Jose took over the attack for the remainder of the first half, resulting in a breakthrough just minutes before halftime. Christian Espinoza converted on a penalty after former Republic midfielder Tommy Thompson was brought down in the box. Both clubs headed to the locker rooms with two goals and a lot to be happy about offensively.

The Earthquakes continued their aggressiveness coming out of the halftime break, putting their Northern California neighbor’s defense to the test. Sacramento held as best they could, including an incredible glove save by Cohen on a Thompson long-shot.

With less than 15 minutes remaining in the match, San Jose took their first lead with an unfortunate deflection off of a corner kick.

In the 90th minute, the Earthquakes appeared to put the final nail in the coffin, as Valeri Qazaishvili scored his second goal early into stoppage time.

But the Republic never quit. Midfielder Drew Skundrich found himself in the right place at the right time, finding the back of the net off a rebounded San Jose save.

Sacramento continued to press for one more miracle goal to force extra time, but couldn’t beat the clock. After four minutes of extra time, the final whistle sounded, and San Jose advanced to the Round of 16 with the 4-3 win.

The Republic now turn their attention back to USL action, where they are coming off of a statement 3-0 victory on the road against the Western Conference leading New Mexico United. Sacramento is back in action at Papa Murphy’s Park against Tulsa Roughnecks FC on June 22nd.

FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS: