On Wednesday night, Sacramento Republic FC played host to Northern California USL Championship rival Oakland Roots in the Third Round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
Republic FC opened the scoring in the 49th minute after forward Russell Cicerone laid it off just outside the 18-yard box to midfielder Nick Ross who stepped into space without any resistance and smashed it home to give the home side a 1-0 advantage. The lone goal is all Republic FC would need to advance and punch their ticket to the Round of 32.
“I thought it was a gritty performance from the guys,” said Republic FC’s Mark Briggs, who now has the Modern Era’s second-highest advance percentage as a manager (0.833). “When you face a local rival like Oakland and what they bring to the game, it’s always gritty and it’s always a battle. I think you saw that throughout the game. It wasn’t really free flowing. There’s a lot of stoppages, a lot of fouls. So we had to handle that and adapt. But we’re in the draw tomorrow, and that’s all that matters when playing a cup competition.”
Collectively, the two sides only combined for three shots on goal. Oakland Roots had their only chance in the 28th minute after a poor Republic giveaway at midfield. However, goalkeeper Carlos Saldana made an incredible foot save denying Roots captain Joseph Nane the goal.
The Republic’s only other chance came in the 39th minute, when defender Jack Gurr’s free kick found Luis Felipe, but his shot hit the crossbar.
In the end, it doesn’t matter how you advance in the Open Cup tournament, you just need to advance. Like Briggs said, all that matters is that they’re moving on. And for a player like Nick Ross — who’s battled through injuries the past few years to get his first goal — was special.
“Aldair had a great run which set me up perfectly for the space,” he said. “I took a chance and it hit. I didn’t think it counted because no one celebrated with me at first. I think everyone was in shock that I scored.
“It was nice for me, I had my wife and my son here, they’ve been waiting for a goal for two years. It’s nice for them to be here. I’m delighted, and just happy that we won the game.”
With the win, the Republic add to their impressive Open Cup resume. The victory was the club’s 20th in 28 games, and they’ve done most of their damage in front of their home fans. Sacramento is 18-1-1 (1-0 PKs) at home and Wednesday’s win improves their home unbeaten streak to 14 games, which is the second-longest streak in the Modern Era (1995-present). They haven’t lost a home game in the US Open Cup since they were upset by the Kitsap Pumas in the Third Round in the 2016 tournament.