Sacramento Republic rally to 1-1 draw with 10 men in home opener

Mar 18, 2023, 10:19 PM

Sacramento Republic...

Sacramento Republic FC

New year, new adversities for Sacramento Republic FC, coming back from a man down to snatch a point in a 1-1 draw Saturday.

Coming out of the gates hot, the Republic put the pressure on the visiting Charleston Battery, keeping them in their own half of the field for the majority of first 15 minutes. Sacramento almost broke the deadlock in the 10th minute, when midfielder Russell Cicerone uncorked a sensational strike form 30 yards out. Unfortunately the shot hit the crossbar, but the impact of the Republic’s new man has been undeniably thus far.

“That’s Russell right,” head coach Mark Briggs said with a smirk postgame. “That’s what he brings to the table. That’s what he’s capable of. At the end of the game, he’s frustrated because he didn’t shoot. But that’s what it takes to be a top player and to be hungry to score goals and get assists. And that’s why Russell continues to get goals and assists because of his hunger.”

Sacramento slowed down a bit after that, giving the ball away carelessly for the next several minutes. Playing good defense initially, Charleston opened the scoring in the 22nd minute, via a header from captain AJ Paterson.

1-0 in the blink of an eye.

The match turned hostile thereafter, with both sides being extra physical on the pitch. But it wasn’t until the officials missed a blatant foul on wing-back Damia Viader inside Charleston’s penalty box. Incensed by the no-call, Sacramento picked up the intensity, turning from defendants to plaintiffs after midfielder Luis Felipe picked up a soft yellow card a minute later.

Then disaster struck.

Three minutes later, Felipe was battling for possession of the ball. Using his upper arm to get separation, the player accidentally struck a member of the Battery, sending him to the floor in agony. Already on a yellow, the official decided to make an example out of Felipe, sending him packing with his second card of the night in the 36th minute.

Clearly frustrated by the controversial calls, Briggs didn’t hold back after the match.

“He does a job like we do a job. Sometimes people get things right, sometimes people get things wrong and it’s not for me to decide on the decision tonight. I guess we’ll go away and we’ll analyze it and have a look at it. But yeah, for me referee shouldn’t be impacting the way a game goes. And tonight, it was certainly impacted,” Briggs said.

The incident lit a spark for the Indomitable Club, coming out of the half-time break determined to even the score. And they did just that in the 55th minute.

Against the run of play, Cicerone got the ball on the left side of the pitch, hitting a low-driven cross into the box for defender Jack Gurr to tap home. 1-1 in the 55th minute and Heart Health Park erupted.

The Sacramento Republic weren’t done there, continuing to defend well with ten players before going on the counter attack. Outperforming their opponents, Sacramento almost broke the deadlock, once again, in the 84th minute.

Thanks to great build-up play by captain Rodrigo Lopez and defender Jared Timmer, Republic were in a great position to score. Hitting the ball wide, the Republic were able to hit another low cross into the box, finding striker Luther Archimède for the would-be winner.

Unfortunately, he missed it, sending it just wide of the post.

Despite the mistake, Briggs took time to credit the striker for his strides in training, confident that he’ll hit the back of the net next time.

“Luther has been excellent. He’s been first class right from day one since he returned and he’s been scoring those goals in preseason and in training,” Briggs stated. “It didn’t go in for him but that’s the life of a striker and I’m sure if he gets one in the next game he will put it in the back of the net.”

After a few more chances by both sides, the official blew his whistle for full-time.

While the Sacramento Republic would have preferred three points, Briggs is proud of his team’s willingness to overcome adversity. With the odds stacked against them, the mantra of “bend, don’t break” reigned supreme in the end.

“I think the game’s gonna throw adversity at you and it’s how you handle that adversity and how you face it. And you know, we had a few minutes where we’re frustrated with a ref and chasing the referee. And after that the guys began to realize that we can still get something from this game. We can still get something and we adjusted with the formation and that allowed us to have a little more clarity on who’s doing what role on the field. And the guys gave as much as they could give and when you’re down to ten men and when you face adversity, I always say to the guys ‘we’re going to bend and it’s going to be hard, but we’re not going to snap.’ And tonight we bent at times, but we didn’t snap,” Briggs explained.

“Eight men, nine men, ten men, doesn’t matter,” Gurr exclaimed. “We wanted to show our heart. We wanted to show that we can push together. And to be honest, we had a chance at winning at the end. But it shows how strong we are as a group. And it’s a positive, we’ll get together and we’ll come back next week.”

Sacramento Republic FC will return to Heart Health Park next Saturday, March 25th, to take on the visiting San Diego Loyal SC.


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