On Wednesday night, Sacramento Republic FC played host to Phoenix Rising FC in the Fourth Round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup at a breezy and chilly Heart Health Park.
On the strength of an early goal by Luis Felipe, a clutch penalty kick save before halftime by Danny Vitiello before halftime and a late goal by Douglas Martinez, Sacramento advanced to the Round of 16 with a 2-0 win.
With the win, Sacramento wins the club’s 10th straight home win in Open Cup play, the longest active streak, and the fourth-longest such streak of the Modern Era. The Republic improve to an impressive 15-1-0 record at home in the Open Cup, and the club’s record against Division 2 teams remains perfect at 5-0-0.
Both teams entered the Fourth Round by defeating lower division sides on late goals. Sacramento had punched their ticket on April 20 after a 2-1 win over Central Valley Fuego FC (USL League One), while Phoenix earned their spot following a 2-1 win over New Mexico United (USL Championship).
The match opened with both sides creating decent chances, but neither club could quite put it together in the final third. Rising FC held most of the possession early.
However, it was Republic FC who finally broke through in the 30th minute when Luis Felipe’s left footed strike beat Rising FC keeper Ben Lundt for a 1-0 lead. Midfielder Matt LaGrassa was credited with the assist.
Five minutes later (35th minute), it appeared Phoenix had leveled the match on a header from Marcus Epps, but it didn’t cross the line after rattling around the ground and crossbar a handful of times.
Republic FC keeper Danny Vitiello made two incredible saves as the first half was drawing to a close. After center referee Joseph Salinas called a penalty in the box, Rising FC forward Greg Hurst stepped up to take the penalty, but was unable to convert. Hurst’s rebound shot was also stopped by Vitiello and the Republic went into the break clinging to a 1-0 advantage.
After a chippy second half full of yellow cards and not many threatening chances for either side, Republic FC put the match away in the 88th minute on a header from Douglas Martinez thanks to a beautiful corner from substitute Emil Cuello.
The goal sealed a 2-0 win for Republic FC and a trip to the fifth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
Following the match, Republic FC midfielder Luis Felipe reflected on the match, his goal and how much the win meant for his team.
“It was a great fight from the whole team,” said Felipe. “We worked hard throughout the week, we watched video on them and I think we executed well. happy to score my first goal of the season, but most of all, happy for the team to win and advance in the Open Cup.”
A draw will be held on Thursday night to determine who Republic FC will face in the Fifth Round.