Thriller In The Capitol: Sacramento Republic FC Gets A Point In Stoppage Time

Jul 10, 2022, 9:56 AM

Sacramento Republic FC...

Sacramento Republic FC

In one of the most entertaining matches of the season, Sacramento Republic FC scored a last-gasp goal to earn themselves a draw, 3-3, against regional foes Oakland Roots SC Saturday night.

The contest was as up and down as it could get with both sides trading haymakers throughout the match. The Quails opened the scoring in the eleventh minute after Oakland’s backline made a mistake in their final third, allowing Maalique Foster to pounce on the ball, sliding it across the 18-yard box to Rodrigo López for the easy goal. But just as the Republic looked to take control, their opponents came storming back as Juan Azócar scored with a wonderful bicycle kick in the 27th minute that goalkeeper Danny Vitiello couldn’t keep out of the back of the net.

The match continued on like that for the rest of the night as Lopez himself, thought the contest was a tale of different spurts.

“I feel like it was a game of like different spurts,” López said post-match. “We dominated the first 20 [minutes], I thought they were better the second 20 [minutes]. And you know they could have had a couple chances, they could have had a couple goals, we could have had a couple goals at the beginning to put them away…”

But the match was far from over after Foster raced in on goal to make it 2-1 at halftime, as The Town took more control after the break, scoring two more thanks to their leading danger-man, Óttar Magnús Karlsson. Talking about him in the preview, the Icelander now has 13 goals in league play this season, now leading the USL Championship. Republic head coach Mark Briggs had praise for the young striker, acknowledging the toughness of the Western Conference.

“Karlsson up front is a top, top player in this league and they’ve got other players around him that are good players so they’re a good team. They’re a dangerous team. This league is a very good League. Every player, every team has dangerous pieces and every team especially in the, Western Conference, can beat one another,” Briggs said.

Down late after conceding the lead, Sacramento was looking for answers and they found them in the final moments of tie. Lopez sprinted down the right flank, making his defender miss not once, not twice, but three times before crossing a nicely-weighed ball on to the head of Luis Felipe, heading it home to send Health Heart Park into pandemonium.

A 35-year-old López was surprised he had the legs at the end of the match to make the play but credits his team for continuing to push into the final moments, giving him the boost as well.

“I just had the ball and I needed to make something happen,” López said. “I’m the type of player that when I get the ball, I try to be positive and maybe create a chance. Luckily, I was able to. I don’t know how I had the legs to cut him three times. I mean I went for, I knew he was going to dive in and luckily I was able to find Luis Felipe.”

“RoRo” also gave credit to Vitiello who, despite the three goals, felt like his goalie kept the Quails in the match throughout the night.

“We conceded three goals but I thought our goalie was still phenomenal. I thought he kept us in the game many times so it’s just, you know, a game that you learn from, you take away everything positive and then the negative you try to fix and move on to the next week,” López said.

After an undefeated month of June, the Indomitable Club has gotten off to a rocky start in July with a loss and a draw. The results have obviously been worrisome for Briggs and the coaching staff but he believes if they get back to the basics in training, they can grind out a few matches.

“June was fantastic. June was phenomenal, to go undefeated and do what we did in the cup,” Briggs stated. “We’ve started off with a loss and a draw in July. So we’ve just gotta get back to basics, get back on the training field, not get carried away with all the things that are happening with the Open Cup success and focus on the next opponent, which is Birmingham Legion next week. I think that’s the way that we continue to grind out the results.”

This was an unusual match from the jump after the Tower Bridge Battalion issued a statement late Friday in response to the club’s lack of statement regarding the controversial Roe v. Wade ruling last month. The club’s largest support group hung a white banner Saturday with the phrase “We Can Be Silent, Too”, indicating that they would not cheer on the Quails in the first half.

Briggs acknowledged the silent protest post-match, saying the everyone is entitled to their own opinions but that the team loves them regardless.

“I was made aware of what was gonna happen by the Tower Bridge Battalion yesterday. And obviously, it created a strange environment. But everybody has their opinions and everybodys’ entitled to those opinions. And that’s life, right? You have an opinion, you’re entitled to your opinion and you voice your opinion wherever you feel it’s appropriate. So I said to the Tower Bridge Battalion, you’re our supporters, we love you, we need you. You guys do what you have to do,” Briggs said.

While López gave thanks to the 10,000 plus fans that did cheer on the side, conveying that Sacramento needs unity in the crowd, not division.

“We had 10,000 more people out here cheering us on. So we appreciate those guys who cheered us on. You know, they have their beliefs and I respect it. At the same time, I feel like that’s only hurting the team and the players and we had nothing to do with the club being silent. I mean it is what it is, but it’s not our fault as players. So if they want to do that, that’s okay. But we did have a great crowd, everyone else who was cheering I respect them and we really appreciate it,” López stated.

The Indomitable Club now sits in seventh place at 29 points after the draw against Oakland. But with only five points separating three to seven, and a long season to go, anything is possible for Sacramento Republic FC.


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Thriller In The Capitol: Sacramento Republic FC Gets A Point In Stoppage Time