USL sides Sacramento Republic and Reno 1868 FC tangled in a Third Round match in Nevada, with the Republic coming out victorious. The away side held control for most of the match, but couldn’t break through until about twenty minutes from time. Keven Alemán’s free kick just outside the box hit the back of the net, sending Sacramento through to the Fourth Round, earning the right to play an MLS side.
The first half was wide open, with the Republic creating the few major chances that occurred in the half. They started in the 8th minute, when Hayden Partain was played in by Jaime Villarreal, but missed the cross. Again in the 28th minute, the visitors had another chance, but Alemán saw his effort tackled away at the last possible second. Their best chance of the first half came in the 32nd minute, when an awful Reno back pass played in Cameron Iwasa, but 1868 keeper Kyle Ihn expertly saved Iwasa’s effort.
“We had the better chances in the first half. We didn’t take them. Ian’s [Russell] teams are tough and well organized,” said Sacramento Head Coach Simon Elliott, as the game went into the half scoreless. “It is always a battle whenever we play them.” Elliott elaborated, “I think when you are on the front foot, we need to take advantage and be more clinical. You let good teams stick around like Reno and they will punish you. They punished us last time, but this time we got away with it.”
The second half played out much like the first half, as Sacramento controlled possession and pushed for the break through goal. The goal eventually came from Man of the Match Keven Alemán. He expertly curled in a free kick from the top of the box, giving the Republic the 1-0 advantage. “He was motivated,” said Elliott about his star player on the night. “He’s been out for a little while with an injury, so he was motivated to play. He got a little frustrated at times in the first half, but what was really pleasing is that he kept going and kept going and got his reward with a really nice goal. So we are delighted for him.”
Following the goal, Reno finally started to build their way into the match, with most of their best chances coming late in the game as they searched for an equalizer. They had a chance in the 83rd minute from Danny Musovski, but the visitors expertly blocked the effort. This began a spell of heavy pressure for the final 10 minutes of the match. 1868 got close to an equalizer three times in stoppage time. First, Christian Thierjung fired over the bar, then Danny Musovski’s diving header hit the post, and finally Connor Johnson fired wide from range as the match ended 1-0 in favor of the Republic.
The win puts Sacramento Republic back in the Fourth Round for the fourth time in their five year existence. They will attempt to improve on their 1-2-1 (0-1 in PKs) record and repeat a win over MLS from last year, when they beat Real Salt Lake 4-1 in the same round.