Sacramento Republic Cruise to 2-0 Win Over New Mexico, Advance to Western Conference Semis
Oct 24, 2022, 11:00 AM | Updated: 11:07 am
One down for the Sacramento Republic Saturday night, who came away with the 2-0 victory over New Mexico United to advance to the Western Conference Semifinals of the USL Playoffs.
The first half was a bit nervy at times, with Sacramento conceding pressure to the visitors throughout the first 45 minutes. A home playoff game can get the best of players sometimes, with head coach Mark Briggs having to settle his squad down going into the break.
The Quails were an entirely different team after the intermission, going on the attack with pace and vigor to open the scoring in the 47th minute. Hitting the counterattack perfectly, forward Maalique Foster raced on goal with only one defender, and the goalie, to beat. Slotting it past New Mexico’s showstopper, Foster had broken the deadlock, 1-0 to Sacramento. A first goal for the Republic’s new campaign, and a first playoff goal for Foster in the USL.
“It means a lot to me. Because these games, as they say: Big games are for big players. So I always want to show up in these games. So these games always mean a lot to me,” Foster stated Saturday night.
With blood in the air, a second goal wasn’t far behind, finding the back of the net again in the 74th minute.
Dispossessing the Black & Yellow on their side of the pitch, captain Rodrigo López rolls the ball to midfielder Kéko, powering a shot from way outside the box. It takes a deflection that loops the ball past the outstretched arms of the goalie, 2-0 Republic and Heart Health Park roars in triumph.
— USL Championship (@USLChampionship) October 23, 2022
“First half, I thought we were a little bit anxious, a little bit on edge. And we got them in at halftime and calmed them down a little bit. I thought in the second half they were a different class, I thought they could have scored two or three more goals,” Briggs sai post-match. “But they scored the two that mattered and we’re into the next round. So, credit to every player that stepped on the field tonight. And I thought the fans were amazing tonight, I thought they roared us home.”
Sacramento will now head to the Rockies to face the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC in the Western Conference Semifinals next Saturday, but it doesn’t matter who the Republic faces going forward, already having success in other competitions this season.
“I think that, you know, the open cup run and beating the teams that we did, gives them confidence coming into this tournament. But it’s a different tournament. The league’s gone, the cup’s finished, we’re now in playoffs. It’s a different tournament. This result gives us momentum and builds that confidence to go into the next round,” Briggs said.
“We’ve learned a lot from this season. This season was all about keeping your calm and keeping your head, so we have to stick to our game no matter what. If we just stick to our game, we will come out victorious,” Foster added.