Sacramento Republic Come Alive In The Second Half To Beat Los Dos
In a tale of two halves, Sacramento Republic FC came out the victors Saturday against LA Galaxy II, 2-0, extending their unbeaten run to five matches.
The match was deadlocked in the first half before Sacramento exploded with life midway through the second half, thanks to goals by Luther Archimède and 17-year-old academy product Rafael Jauregui. The Republic looked lost out there on the pitch in the first half, lucky to not be down 2-0 early after Remi Cabral of Los Dos saw not one, but two shots bounce off the crossbar.
Head coach Mark Briggs attributed that to the rotation of the squad as six depth players made the starting 11 Saturday night, showing a bit of rust in the first 45 minutes.
We rode our luck at times in the first half, which is to be expected when we played a team that, a lot of those players haven’t played for a long time. So it’s a little bit of riskiness but I thought defensively we were too stretched,” Briggs said, noting the half-time adjustments as the key to the second half turnaround. But three points is three points. And that’s what we wanted to achieve at the start of the night and that’s what we have tonight. So that’s all that matters.”
The turnaround in the second half officially got underway when Zeiko Lewis came on in 59th minute, putting his stamp on the match right away with a lovely turn in the midfleid before laying it off for Archimède to race forward on goal. The striker got to the ball first, dribbling past Galaxy II goalkeeper Richard Sanchez when he was tripped up, resulting in a penalty for the republic and a yellow card for Sanchez. Cool as a cucumber, the number nine slotted it home to put Sacramento up 1-0 in the 63rd minute.
Lewis spoke about the turning point of the match afterwards, giving all the credit to his teammates.
“Dan [Casey] played a great ball into me,” Lewis said. “I was able to turn, turn to continue to play us and then Luther made a good run. I know Luther’s pace so I just had to put it in front of him.”
The goal from Archimède comes after a tough day of training Thursday when Briggs and him had a conversation after a rash tackle on a teammate, asking his striker to bring that competitive fire to the match. The goal and the following celebration showed how much it meant to him to get his name on the scoresheet, Briggs singing his praises post-match.
“It’s great for Luther, it’s great for a striker to get a goal and I thought he worked his socks off tonight. He got the rub of the greens, Zeiko comes off the bench, fantastic turn in the middle of the field, plays Luther through, great run. He draws the penalty and then he went and grabbed the ball and to be honest, took it with absolute confidence. Strokes it in the corner, sent the goalkeeper the opposite way and yeah, 1-0, and everyone’s feeling better,” Briggs said.
The man of the match however, goes to 17-year-old academy product Rafael Jauregui, scoring his first career professional goal in the 69th minute after stealing the ball away from Los Dos, taking on two defenders before slotting it into the bottom corner with confidence. “Rafa”, a recent graduate of Elk Grove Charter School, was elated to say the least, running over to hug his family and friends as the crowd went into pandemonium for the local boy.
“I was talking to my cousins and my parents and I was like, ‘What am I going to do when I score?'” Jauregui explained. “And they were like ‘Oh, you should run over there’ because they always sit over there. And so that’s what I did. And everyone was just on one.”
Having arrived at the Indomitable Club three years ago, Briggs knew the type of talent he had with Rafa, expecting big things for the Sacramento teenager.
“When I came to the football club, I saw Rafa and I knew straight away we had a player that can go on to play at the highest level, Rafa’s that good,” Briggs said. “Rafa has things, natural talents and a work rate and a humility that will get him a good career in the game. And it’s about us exposing him at the right moments, developing him and nurturing his talent. Because it’s a special one.”
The Republic now head into arguably the biggest match in club history, taking on the parent club, LA Galaxy, Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup. A quick turnaround with only three days in-between, but these are the matches you live for as Briggs and his players are relishing at the opportunity in front of them.
“It’s a big game there’s no getting away from it. It’s a quarterfinal in a national competition against arguably the biggest, most recognized club in this country,” Briggs said. “So it’s a big game. This is what you play the game for, you want to be involved in these games and the guys have deserved their opportunity to come up against a club of that stature and now we’ve got to go and enjoy it.”