Dan Casey’s Sloppy Errors Sink Sacramento Republic FC in U.S. Open Cup Final
A scoreline that doesn’t tell the full story. The Sacramento Republic FC dream U.S. Open Cup run came to a screeching halt Wednesday night, losing the final to hosts Orlando City SC, 3-0.
The match had been a rock fight up to the point of the first goal, both sides seemingly impenetrable on the defensive end. Sacramento started to control the match for a portion of the second half, with captain Rodrigo López finding forward Douglas Martínez on an excellent cross into the box, flicking it on but Orlando goalkeeper Pedro Gallese was there to make the save.
The mistakes came right after in the 75th minute, as Dan Casey received a back pass from Lee Desmond that he took towards the corner flag. Trapped by two Orlando players, Casey’s pass was deflected on to substitute Benji Michel inside the final third, who passed it to winger Facundo Torres who slots it in with his left foot from just outside the 18-yard box, 1-0 to Orlando City in the blink of an eye.
The bleeding continued from there, as Orlando pressed the fatigued Quails, with a through ball over the top to Michel. Out of position, Republic goalie Danny Vitiello whiffed on the ball, allowing the forward time inside the box before Casey came in with a last-ditch slide tackle that clips the forward, giving the Lions a penalty kick.
Again the 22-year-old Torres stepped up, sending Vitiello the wrong way as his spot-kick converted to put Orlando City up 2-0 in the span of five minutes. Looking tired and deflated, the Republic conceded once more during extra-time. Michel raced onto the right side of the box, sliding a shot between Casey’s legs and past Vitiello. The goal put Orlando City up 3-0 and that’s all she wrote.
The Quails kept a clean sheet for three-fourths of the match, but like in every sport, one mistake can cost the desired outcome. After the match, head coach Mark Briggs was somber in tone while speaking to the media, but still proud, nonetheless, of his club’s accomplishments this season.
“The guys did our club, our city, extremely proud,” Briggs said Wednesday night. “I thought for 70 minutes we held our own. We played the football we wanted to play, maybe could have created, been a little bit more progressive in the final third… So it’s a hard one to take right now, to be honest, but just extremely proud of the guys and what they’ve achieved in reaching this final.”
Torres was the spark that ignited the run, netting a brace in five minutes.
“We made a couple of errors and when you play against world-class players, Torres is going to the World Cup in November. I think Orlando paid nine million for him, that’s more than the value of our club. You know, when you make mistakes like that, they punish you. That’s the level they play at,” Briggs said. “And we don’t have that level in our league. You can make mistakes and you can get away with those things. But you make mistakes at this level and you get punished and that’s what happened tonight.”
Sacramento would have been the first non-MLS side since 1999 to win the Lamar Hunt trophy, last accomplished by the disbanded Rochester Rhinos. The club still made history in the build-up to the match though, knocking out three MLS teams on their way to the final, becoming the first non-MLS side to make an appearance since 2008. It may be hard to see now, but there is a silver lining to this historic occasion for the club.
So proud of this squad. Fought round after round to get here. No matter what, this group is indomitable. pic.twitter.com/Ab7ZIcuXla
— Republic FC (@SacRepublicFC) September 8, 2022
“At the end of the day, we have to be proud of ourselves,” López said after the match. “We made history, we did things that no one thought we could do, put ourselves in a situation to play a final. That’s something that everyone should hold on to.”
“I think the guys made the city proud, made everyone associated with the club proud, everyone associated with the city of Sacramento proud. And I think this run ignited a flame in the city and got the supporters behind the club got the city buzzing about the club again,” Briggs said.
What an honor to lead the boys tonight onto the pitch. So Fing proud or everyone, left our hearts out on that field. Thank you to all our traveling fans, you were loud all night. @Sac_Battalion . Congrats to @OrlandoCitySC on winning title. All focus on @USLChampionship . pic.twitter.com/IQ9HGeScdD
— Rodrigo Lopez (@Lopez_Roro) September 8, 2022
The Indomitable Club will now focus on league play for the remainder of the year, currently sitting fourth in the USL Western Conference standings. A side clearly looking for silverware at the end of the season, López will internalize this defeat, using it to drive his desire for USL glory.
“I’ll remember this because, hopefully, I know this team is very capable of winning the USL championship. So, you know, we’re gonna work super hard, extremely hard to get there. And if that’s the case, one day, then just remember this moment, how we feel right now and learn from it. And hopefully, we’re able to lift the cup in our league,” López said.
Their next match is Saturday, Sept. 10t, returning to Heart Health Park to take on Loudoun United FC.