Sacramento Republic fans and players were a bit worried for the first 45 minutes in the game against their lower league opposition, San Francisco City FC, as the match was balanced throughout the first half. However, in the end, the professionals from Sacramento showed their experience as they went on to win the match 3-1 off of a comfortable second half performance to advance to Round 3 of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
“I thought we were slow to get started. Turnovers from simple pressure were a problem for us. That’s something we need to tidy up,” said Sacramento Republic’s head coach Simon Elliot about the sluggish start to the game for his side.
For the opening 20 minutes of the match, both sides looked comfortable as they felt each other out. They both saw a few half chances during this period, but neither side was able to find the breakthrough chance.
The first major chance of the match fell the way of the PDL side from San Francisco when in the 22nd minute Aaron Lombardi saw his shot from the top of the box blocked. A rebound effort fell to Robert Hines, whose point blank effort was saved excellently by Sacramento’s keeper, Rafael Diaz.
Less than a minute later, Sacramento was able to hit the back of the net when Kevin Aleman found the ball off a rebound to put the home side in front 1-0.
“After about 20 minutes, I thought we got going,” said Elliot.
City did not get their heads down however, and eventually found an equalizer in the 31st minute when Robert Hines played a perfect left footed cross that Aaron Lombardi expertly finished to level the score at 1-1.
The rest of the half played out similar to the first 20 minutes, as neither side took control of the game. The half ended all square.
The second half was a different story as Simon Elliot made two changes and obviously said something to his players to get them to kick it up a notch. “I’m not sure I can tell you that,” said Elliot about what he said to his players at the intermission. “You probably get the idea. You can make something up. It’s just that high standards are always important. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing in the park or at Papa Murphy’s Park in front of 11,000. If you are wearing the badge and you got the shirt on, it’s high standards. It has to be all the time.”
The Republic found the go-ahead goal and what turned out to be the winning goal in the 60th minute when Mitchell Taintor found one of the substitutes, Villyan Bijev, who managed to get the ball across the line. “I think the second half was better. I think the subs helped. We still need to understand a little bit of game management. We eventually got the message and had enough quality to take care of the game.”
Sacramento then went on to put the game to bed in the 68th minute when Adam Moffat finished after a scramble in the box to all but seal the game for Republic as the two-goal cushion was too big a hill to climb for San Francisco.
“Every game is important. It’s professional soccer,” said Elliot on the importance of a good Cup run. “Every time you go out there, it’s a tough game. In the USL, it’s tough games with good players and good coaching and this [Cup] is no different.”
Sacramento will travel to play their rivals ,Reno 1868, in Round 3 of the Cup next week.