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Winding Route Led Republic FC to Victory

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 05/21/17, 9:21AM EDT

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Christian’s goal swings game against Roughnecks in front of 11,569


Photo courtesy Sacramento Republic FC

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Chris Christian’s first goal for Sacramento Republic FC couldn’t have arrived at a more opportune moment.

Coming seven minutes after Tulsa Roughnecks FC had leveled from the penalty spot in front of another sellout crowd of 11,569 at Papa Murphy’s Park, Christian’s header at the back post from Danny Barrera’s corner from  the left provided the decisive blow in a 3-2 victory that snapped Republic FC’s six-game winless streak in the league.

“My brother is a goalie and he always tells me to send the ball where the goalie just was, not where he is,” said Christian, whose header found the left corner of the net despite a despairing effort by Roughnecks defender Kosuke Kimura.

After a back-and-forth tussle that saw both teams hold the lead, earning the team’s first victory since its meeting with Tulsa at ONEOK Field on April 9 – and also finding the net for the first time in league action since then, too – provided a potential turning point for Republic FC. 

After a three-game winning streak to start the season, Republic FC’s recent form had been its worst run in club history. And despite the win, there was still much to be worked on for the side according to Head Coach Paul Buckle.

“There’s so much more to come from the team. There really is,” said Buckle. “And I’m pleased that I’m saying that after a win because that’s what it’s about. There’s more to come.”

Certainly, things could have gone far differently after the Roughnecks – coming off three consecutive wins in all competitions – took the lead in just the seventh minute through Joey Calistri. But Sacramento remained active, particularly through the play of Harry Williams, who ended up creating the equalizer as his run into the penalty area redirected off Sammy Ochoa and was tucked home by Barrera.

After notching the club’s first league goal in 591 minutes, it took only two more to add a second as Ochoa nodded home James Kiffe’s excellent cross to the top of the six-yard area.

Sacramento’s work to earn its first lead in league action in more than a month was put in danger midway through the second half as lax defending on a free kick saw the ball handled by Republic FC defender Julius James, and Tulsa’s Juan Pablo Caffa dispatched the ensuing penalty kick to level the score with authority, but Christian eased the nerves of most within Papa Murphy’s Park with his well-taken header.


Photo courtesy Sacramento Republic FC

Now back up to fourth place in a jumbled pack in the middle of the USL’s Western Conference, Buckle is hopeful his side can get things back on track to try and close the gap on top two San Antonio and Real Monarchs SLC.

“You have to know in sport that confidence is a huge thing,” Buckle said. “And we probably lacked a little bit of confidence at times, understandably. So hopefully now we can dust ourselves down. Rest for a bit and then get back to it Monday and get ready for another game Sunday.”

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