Maybe they just like to play in the U.S. Open Cup.
Starting the USL season in indifferent form, Sacramento Republic FC are having statistically their worst-ever season, scoring just 11 goals in 13 games, en route to a 4-6-3 start that has the club on the outside looking in of the playoff race.
But at the same time, the Republic’s cup form has been impeccable, especially Wednesday night at Papa Murphy’s Park when Sacramento picked up their first-ever victory against an MLS club in the competition, defeating Real Salt Lake 4-1 in a dominating performance.
In doing so, the Republic have now scored ten goals in just three Open Cup matches, a far cry from their league form.
“We’ve had so much disappointment this season with results, not performances,” said head coach Paul Buckle. “I was delighted with the performance in the end, the character, great fitness levels, we kept the ball very well, we scored some good goals and we looked very dangerous.”
The city of Sacramento was pretty excited on social media after the club’s first-ever win over an MLS opponent.
After dominating the possession and coming up short on four corner kicks in the first half, the Republic finally hit pay-dirt on the fifth, in the 29th minute of the game.
Though the initial chance was cleared out by the Real Salt Lake defense, the ball fell to Sacramento left back James Kiffe, who played a cross far post to Danny Barrera. Barrera made his name in the competition playing for the 2012 Cal FC side that reached the fifth round of the tournament.
Barrera laid out full stretch to head the ball back across the box to Trinidad and Tobago international Trevin Caesar, who rippled the back of the net on the half volley for a 1-0 lead.
It was a lead that would last just six minutes as Real Salt Lake equalized completely against the run of play on a slaloming run through the heart of the Republic defense that ended with Ricardo Velazco rifling a shot low and hard past Sacramento goalkeeper Evan Newton.
But a Republic side that had played poorly in the USL as of late wouldn’t stop fighting, and again took the lead two minutes before half time, again off of a service from Danny Barrera on a cleared corner kick.
With the ball on his cultured left foot, Barrera whipped a cross into the near post that defensive midfielder Augustin Cazarez flicked to the far post and into the back of the net for a 2-1 lead.
For Cazarez, a quiet-spoken defensive midfielder, it was his first competitive goal for the club in exactly two years and one day, dating back to a 2-1 USL victory over Arizona United in 2015.
Just two minutes later it went from bad to worse for Real Salt Lake, who fouled Caesar in the box, leading Jeremey Hall to step up and blast the ensuing penalty off the post and into the goal for a 3-1 halftime advantage.
Barrera sealed the game late, getting on the scoresheet himself with a diving header off of a Kiffe cross that sent the home crowd into pandemonium, and for the first time, the Republic into the last 16 of the Open Cup.