A goal in the fourth minute of the quarterfinal match of the 2022 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup foreshadowed Sacramento’ Republic FC’s 2-1 upset victory over the LA Galaxy on Tuesday night.
“I think shows that we’re a football club that can be that can compete with the elite clubs in this country … so proud of the group we have here and the result that we’ve achieved tonight,” said Sacramento Republic FC head coach Mark Briggs, who will lead his club into the Semifinals for the first time in team history.
This marks just the 14th time that a lower division team has advance to the US Open Cup Semifinals, and they are the ninth different club to do it. It is the fourth time that Sacramento has upset a MLS team
Sacramento also becomes just the second club (and the first lower division club) in the last 21 years to win a US Open Cup game on the Galaxy’s home field.
A battle of possession looked to be in the favor of the LA Galaxy, however, that was short-lived when Sacramento FC created its first opportunity of the night.
Just four minutes into the match, a play from the backfield to its strikers, Sacramento Republic’s Douglas Martinez took possession of the ball and quickly released it to fellow teammate Rodrigo Lopez.
Lopez completed the pass from Martinez and put up Sacramento Republic FC on the board early on.
.It was Rodrigo Lopez’s seventh career US Open Cup goal, which pulled him ahead of Tommy Stewart on the Republic’s all-time tournament scoring list. It also gave him four goals for the 2022 US Open Cup which puts him alone atop the competition’s leaderboard.
His seven career goals and seven career assists in the US Open Cup give him 21 points which put the 35-year-old tied for 12th on the Modern Era’s scoring chart.
A bit distraught by the early defect, the Galaxy began to increase their pressure on Sacramento. A few close shots were attempted from the added offensive push, but all would just barely skim outside the goal posts or were blocked by Sacramento’s goalie.
However, in front of Sacramento’s goal post, a small huddle appeared where both teams attempted to remove the ball and score at the same time. Unknowingly to both, the ball would be played by a Sacramento player and fall into their own goal.
The match would turn into a 1-1 score in the 18th minute.
With that unforeseen own goal, both teams were now eager to surpass the other. The momentum increased, but so did the aggressive play on the pitch. Two yellow cards were awarded to LA Galaxy, one in the 25th minute (Kevin Cabral) and the 42nd minute (Derrick Williams). Sacramento Republic FC did not just scrape the first half without a caution, as Jack Gurr received a yellow in the 37th minute.
However, the pace of the game would continue the same, and even with three minutes added to the half; neither team would take the lead.
Returning to the pitch for the second half, the aggressiveness from the first half continued to be prominent with both teams.
Though just like most of the match, opportunities were created but were just inches away from the goal.
It wasn’t until the 70th minute that Sacramento Republic FC would find itself finally taking back the lead. Luis Felipe Rodrigues would be just feet outside of the goalie box for a straight shot to the right side of the goal post and just inches out of the reach of LA Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann’s reach.
“It’s great for Luis, obviously, he was with San Jose for three years, and didn’t get the minutes that he would have liked. And he’s come to us and last year he was fantastic for us, playing defensive midfield and was one of our top goal scorers. And then this year, he’s carried on that form,” Briggs said.
The score was now 2-1 and with less than 20 minutes remaining in the match, LA Galaxy looked to create a comeback before the end of regulation time.
With no other close opportunities created by LA Galaxy, Sacramento Republic FC held on for the win to become the first lower division team to reach the Semifinals since FC Cincinnati of the USL (2nd div. pro) cracked the final four in 2017.
It was a rare home loss for the Galaxy in the tournament. It was just the fourth time that the MLS side had lost a US Open Cup game at home, dropping their all-time record to to 25-4-0. Entering tonight, they had won their last six home games and 23 of their last 24 in the competition, a run that dates back to 2001, and includes a 2-0 win over the Sacramento Repubulic in the Round of 16 in 2017.
“I think winning football games gives confidence or were focused on we want tonight we’re through to the semi-final, which is the next round. That’s all we can focus on. Take each game as it comes. Taking each opponent as it comes, makes you make sure the players are tactically set up correctly. Make sure the players understand our strengths, their weaknesses, and how we can win games and then ask the players to execute like they did tonight,” Briggs said.
The Republic will play the winner of Sporting Kansas City (MLS) and Union Omaha (USL League One) in the Semifinals. The host for that game, and the hosting priority for the US Open Cup Final will take place on Wednesday, June 23.