On Saturday night, a record crowd of 11,569 saw the Sacramento Republic FC dominate the visiting Arizona United en route to a 1-0 victory. The score may not reflect a total one-sided affair, but from the opening whistle, the Republic controlled the ball, pace of play and defended exceptionally well. The win improves the Republic to 2-1 in all-time home openers (2-0 at Bonney Field), with the lone loss coming in their inaugural season at Hughes Stadium in 2014.
During the first half of play, the Republic created several solid chances on goal, five corner kicks and there was a disallowed goal from Mark Sherrod (San Jose Earthquakes loanee) for an questionable foul called in the box. The first half was so one-sided that the Arizona United didn’t even have a single shot on goal.
The second half of the match proved to be more of the same. The Republic dialed up the pressure on offense and wore down the Arizona defense. After several near goals, including a second disallowed goal from Emrah Klimenta for being offsides (another questionable call), the home team finally broke through in the 84th minute when Sacramento native Cameron Iwasa (who had just substituted into the game at the 80th minute) sent a low rocket past the outstretched arms of Arizona United keeper Carl Wosczcynski sending the Bonney Field crowd into a frenzy.
After the game, Iwasa talked about what the early season win means for the Republic. “Early in the season, it’s just huge to set the tone and put the pressure on the other teams, and make sure we keep getting maximum points,” said Iwasa. “We feel like we’re good enough to win every single game we step onto the field, so it’s just about getting out there and executing.”
While the team created a lot of chances on offense, Republic FC Manager Paul Buckle praised the defensive effort from the team, which has now delivered back-to-back shutouts to start the 2016 season. “We pride ourselves in [defense] and you have to if you’re going to be successful,” said Buckle. “It was a very good defensive display for the whole team.”
The 2016 season is off to an exciting start for the Republic who are now 2-0-0 and only a point behind LA Galaxy II for the top of the USL Western Conference standings.
Off the field, there is exciting news as well. Last week, MLS announced that Commissioner Don Garber would be coming out to Sacramento to visit on April 14. The purpose of the visit is to meet with Republic officials and tour the location of the proposed soccer stadium. For the Republic, it’s really an opportunity to show Commissioner Garber and MLS that the city and team are MLS-ready.
Read what you want into this visit, but Garber wouldn’t be coming out to Sacramento if the possibility of expansion wasn’t real. If Sacramento has checked all the boxes to position itself to be MLS ready, this is, in my opinion, the league and its commissioner coming out to check their box to make sure Sacramento is ready. At this point, I just can’t envision a scenario where Sacramento is not awarded an expansion club, unless there’s a significant financial fallout.
More to come on the MLS to Sacramento front soon, but in meantime, the Republic will be back in action this Sunday, April 10 when they travel to Vancouver to face the Whitecaps. The Republic are 2-0-0 all-time versus the Whitecaps.
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