Sacramento Republic score two extra-time goals to advance to U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals in instant classic

May 21, 2024, 11:14 PM | Updated: 11:17 pm

Sacramento Republic FC...

Sacramento Republic FC

The Sacramento Republic had an absolute classic take place Tuesday night at Cal Expo, with The Indomitable Club emerging victorious thanks to two extra-time goals.

Sacramento Republic FC defeated the San Jose Earthquakes, 4-3, in extra time to advance to the Quarterfinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. In a match that saw many tests and turns, none were more astonishing than the final 15 minutes, sending the city of Sacramento into a frenzy with another installment of this great competition.

The match started slow, with both sides figuring one another out. But eventually, play took shape, with San Jose drawing first blood.

After an almost goal by Republic striker Kieran Phillips his the right post, the visitors go on the counterattack. The ball finds playmaker Benji Kikanovic along the left side, putting it on a platter for striker Preston Judd to easily slot home.

1-0 Earthquakes in the 11th minute.

Sacramento wasn’t laying down to the visitors however, getting back on the attack immediately. They were rewarded for their efforts six minutes later. When the ball got to midfielder Luis Felipe, he flicked it onto striker Kieran Phillips form the left side, putting his shot in the back of the net.

Goal to The Republic, 1-1, in the 17th minute.

Sacramento took control of the match for a bit thereafter, coming close on a few chances. That included another by Phillips, missing just wide with a low-header towards goal. Eventually, they found their second in the 38th minute, via Phillips once more with a tidy first-time finish.

It was the loanee’s third goal in two matches, elated to have settled with his new club so quickly.

“Yeah, I’m loving it,” Phillips said post-match. “I mean, I’m playing week-in, week-out, I’m scoring [goals]. I just saw a guy with a shirt with my name on the back, that was nice to see. They seem to have talked to me well, the fans, and they’ve given us everything tonight, it was electric.”

2-1 to Sacramento, carrying that lead into halftime.

The Earthquakes came out of the break with a point to prove, bringing on three starters. Despite the changes, Sacramento remained hellbent on not conceding for 45 minutes, preventing a few chances. Additionally, they missed a few as well, leaving the door open for the visitors.

The match took its’ first twist of the second half when captain Rodrigo Lopez suffered an apparent knee injury at the 55th minute. He was substituted thereafter, unable to continue. Sacramento lost some steam with Lopez’s departure, allowing the Earthquakes to claw back into form. But yet agin, Sacramento’s resilience on defense kept them above water.

Until the 80th minute.

San Jose’s Cristian Espinoza took matters into his own hands, converting a deep free kick with his right foot past goalkeeper Danny Vitiello. In the blink of an eye, the match was level, 2-2.

Despite the momentum swing, the Quails still had chances to take the victory but were unable to do so. Chances either deflected off the post, went over the crossbar, or were miraculously saved by GK Jacob Jackson.

When the 90-minute whistle blew, it was level at two all. Extra time.

Sacramento Republic were unable to control the first extra-time period, having to play prevent defense for much of the first 15 minutes. The visitors eventually found paydirt in the 100th minute, thanks to their club record signing, Hernán López.

The Argentine talent had a nice give and go with an Earthquakes teammate, allowing him to slip into the 18-yard-box on the left side, slotting a strike under and past Vitiello for the lead. 3-2 to San Jose, leaving Sacramento dejected.

Down a goal with 15 minutes remaining, the Republic didn’t flinch, staying determined to remain unbeaten. And that they did.

First the 106th minute. Midfielders Felipe and Rafael Jauregui connected on a nice combo to free the former. A fortunate bounce of the ball sees Felipe on goal in the box, sending it home with his left boot to the right boot corner.

All tied at 3-3 in one minute.

Next, striker Sebastian Herrera found the back of the net after forward Crisitian Parano had a nifty move to fire himself along the right edge of the box. Sending the cross in the striker, Herrera hit it past Jackson for the lead in the 108th minute.

4-3 Sacramento, sending Heart Health Park into hysterics.

The Republic had San Jose in utter shock after that, lost for momentum as their lead evaporated in three minutes’ time. Unable to do too much more in the final third, The Indomitable Club’s will triumphed in the end.

And after a seemingly never-ending stoppage time, the final whistle blew with Sacramento on top, 4-3.

Despite playing through injuries to the squad and unfavorable officiating, the Quails prevailed, with the coaching staff celebrating alongside them.

“I told them before the gam, in Cup games, anything can happen. Absolutely anything can happen. So when things happen, as a group, we’re going to bend and we’re going to struggle, but we don’t break,” Republic coach Mark Briggs said post-match. “And I thought tonight we bent a little more than I would have liked, but we didn’t snap, and that shows the collective spirit, the collective togetherness which allowed us to come back into the game and eventually win it.”

Sacramento Republic FC now advance to the Quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup, the second time they’ve done so in there seasons. HHP has been a big part of that, going 19-1 all-time in Open Cup play at home.

Unfortunately, they may not get the chance to continue that run, with Cal Expo disallowing them from playing their next round at home due to “state fair preparations”, per sources.

“Well, that’s an absolute travesty. It’s an absolute joke,” Briggs stated. “How can we not play here on our home stadium? How can we not allow our fans [the opportunity]? How can we not allow our club to be put on a national platform…They’re not only hurting the team, they’re hurting the city.”

Upcoming Sacramento Republic FC Schedule

  • Tuesday, May 21st – vs. San Jose Earthquakes – 7 PM PST
  • Saturday, May 25th – vs. Birmingham Legion F.C. – 7:00 PM PST
  • Saturday, June 1st – vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies – 7:00 PM PST
  • Saturday, June 8th – at Monterey Bay F.C. – 7:30 PM PST

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