Sacramento Republic crash out of Open Cup in 4-2 loss to Colorado Rapids

May 10, 2023, 6:00 AM | Updated: 9:11 am

Sacramento Republic FC...

Sacramento Republic FC

On a night of much anticipation, the Sacramento Republic couldn’t overcome what was in front of them.

Sacramento Republic FC have fallen short in their 2023 U.S. Open Cup campaign, losing to the Colorado Rapids, 4-2, in Round of 32 Tuesday night. This marks the first time this season that Sacramento has been defeated, going 9 games unbeaten previously.

In a contest that was evenly matched throughout, the MLS visitors had more quality moments than their host, who played from behind for most of the match. Colorado scored their first goal of the night early, after some sloppy passing by the Quails in their own half. The ball found forward Jonathan Lewis between two Republic defenders running down the middle of the lane, getting past goalie Danny Vitiello before slotting it home.

1-0 to the Rapids in the fourth minute of the first half.

The Republic wasn’t done conceding in the first half, as Colorado took advantage of sloppy play, once again, 10 minutes later.

Conceding a corner to the visitors, defender Alexander Gersbach whipped in a great ball, finding the head of center-back Michael Edwards for the second goal in 15 minutes.

Then Sacramento woke up.

Holding the majority of possession, the Quails found their first goal of the night in the 30th minute. With acres of space, Republic midfielder Keko sent in a beautiful ball into the box, finding striker Sebastian Herrera for a strong header into the right corner.

2-1 and the Indomitable Club is back in the match heading into halftime.

Sacramento was met with high press from the visitors to start the second half but found a way to score thanks to Herrera once again. Against the run of play, wing-back Jack Gurr crosses the ball into the box, finding Herrera’s head for another shot into the right corner.

2-2 and Heart Health Park is going crazy.

That was the end of the Republic’s comeback, however, as the match took a turn for the worst.

Allowing Colorado to stroll down the pitch, the Rapids fired a rocket at Vitiello, bouncing off the goalpost to Sam Nicholson for the easy goal in the 56th minute. 3-2 in a matter of minutes.

Then chaos ensued on the pitch. Republic defender Shane Wiedt committed two costly fouls in two minutes, earning double yellow cards to be expelled from the match in the 62nd minute.

Despite being down to 10 men, the Republic continued to dominate possession. But in the end, it wasn’t enough, conceding a fourth goal in the 82nd minute to ice the contest.

Obviously not thrilled with the results, the Republic coaching staff is still pleased with the team’s performance, only hoping that those sloppy goals won’t happen in the future.

“We gave up two sloppy goals really early on, when you play against MLS teams and caliber of opponents like we did it’s a hard mountain to climb,” head coach Mark Briggs said after the match. “But like I said to the guys, really proud of them. They played our style, they played our intensity and they played our football even down to 10 men.”

Tuesday’s loss feels a bit sour though, especially considering the officiating in the match. Sacramento felt that the opposition was rewarded for blatant handballs, including one that led to the third goal. Giving the refs a piece of his mind, Briggs was handed a yellow card, leaving the team scratching their heads post-match.

“I’m probably best not to comment on it,” Briggs said candidly. “I have to look at obviously the sending off that changed the game. But then the handball just before they score the third goal. I don’t know how you miss that. But that’s football. You can’t complain about the officiating. It is what it is. Hopefully he goes away and watches film and learns from it and gets better because he doesn’t have to stand in front of you guys and answer any questions, whereas I do.”

Regardless of the controversy, the Sacramento Republic wasn’t good enough against higher-level competition. After last season’s historic run to the open cup final, the Republic will now focus on league play, currently first in USL Championship western conference.

“I think that’s always been the goal, right? We wanted to do well in the Open Cup, but we want to win the league. We want to win the regular season, we want to win the championship. That’s what our goals are as a group and we have to continue to work on a daily basis and make sure the focus and the attitude is right, and we have the quality to do that,” Briggs stated.

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