SACRAMENTO REPUBLIC FC

Sacramento Republic Suffer First Loss at Home in 2022 as Winless Skid Continues

Jul 17, 2022, 5:30 AM | Updated: 7:34 am
Sacramento Republic FC...
Sacramento Republic FC

Sacramento Republic FC’s undefeated streak at home came to an uninspiring halt Saturday night, losing to Birmingham Legion FC, 1-0.

The Republic got off to a rocky start early, conceding in the first two minutes after a good run by Juan Agudelo was rewarded with a goal, slipping the ball underneath goalkeeper Danny Vitiello to take the wind out of the sails of the Sacramento crowd. Down early, the Quails almost conceded again a few minutes later after a back pass to Vitiello took a wild bounce that resulted in an errant kick away from the net. Sacramento tried to make quick work to get back in the match as Maalique Foster raced down the right side before cutting a pass back in the middle to Keko Gontán, putting the shot wide left near the 10-minute mark.

From there, the match slowed down as both sides were diligent in their defending, unable to break the opponent’s backline for the remainder of the half. The Republic came close in the 30th minute after wing-back Damiá Viader made a great run down the left flank, crossing it into the box where Keko put the shot on target this time, but in the direction of goalie Matt Van Oekel for the save.

Feeling confident going into the break in action, Birmingham sat back most of the second half, not allowing the Republic any room to operate in the final third. The Republic had a chance to equalize late in the match, thanks to a free-kick won by Rafael Jauregui. But in the end, it didn’t amount to anything as Rodrigo López send the ball over the goal, ending the hopes of a draw Saturday night.

“I think we’re complicating the games ourselves,” a deflated López said post-match. “We prepare the same way we prepared every game this season. The coaching staff they do a great job to break down videos and games and we just have to do a better job executing like I said I feel like today if they don’t score that early goal, I think the game changes obviously, but you can’t go back in this sport and they won the game.”

A more conservative approach being only one goal up, Legion did their job and came away with three away points, something López attributes to the side not being in the match, mentally-wise, from the second minute on.

Sacramento Republic FC

Sacramento Republic FC

“That’s what happens when we don’t start the games mentally all there,” López stated. “And obviously, they did a great job of sitting back and making it hard for us to get chances, we still had a couple of chances but I thought they only made a couple good saves and just wasn’t our night offensively.”

Good saves are what kept Birmingham up in this one as goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel was one of, if not the man of the match for his side Saturday night.

“Just was one of those nights where I didn’t feel like the ball was gonna go in and Matt Van Oekel produced a high level performance in goal for them. And they’ve done well with that performance,” Republic head coach Mark Briggs said.

A club known for their resilience, the boys worked tirelessly to get the equalizer, coming close on numerous occasions throughout the match, to no avail. Despite an effort of 19 shots on the night for the Republic, a clinical ability has been lacking in recent matches, something the coaching staff and players will need to get a hold of going forward.

“We’ve just got to settle down again and get back to basics. You know, we’ve got to be hard to beat, we’ve got to be solid…We’re creating opportunities. You know, we’re, every time we talk, it’s not like we’re not creating opportunities. We’ve just got to continue doing the things that we have been doing and then focusing a little bit and put the ball in the back of the net but that will come,” Briggs stated.

Sacramento Republic FC

Sacramento Republic FC

After a perfect month of June, the Indomitable Club has hit an unexpected bump in the road, winless in their last three matches. Sacramento also suffered their first loss at Heart Health Park Saturday night, a goal the club had set out to accomplish at the start of the year.

But with a tough away match in Phoenix next weekend, and then the U.S. Open Cup semifinals a few days later, now is not the time to drop their heads in defeat according to Briggs, confident that positivity and optimism can lead the Quails to victories sooner rather than later.

“We’ve got two big games coming up a way down in Phoenix and then a few days later, obviously, the Open Cup semifinal. So we’ve got to reassess everyone in the morning…And then just regroup,” Briggs said. “We got to stay positive. It’s not the end of the world. We’re having a good season, we’ve lost one game at home, and that was tonight. So there’s no need for the alarm bells to be ringing. We’ve just got to keep the boys positive, keep the boys going in the direction that we have been going in and things will be fine.”

Sacramento Republic FC

Sacramento Republic FC

The Republic drop to the edge of the USL Western Conference playoffs, currently sitting at the seventh seed while Birmingham Legion currently sits at the sixth seed in the east.

With one match to go before the Open Cup semifinals against Sporting Kansas City on July 27th, three points have never been more vital, this season, than right now for the Quails.

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