Photo courtesy Sacramento Republic FC
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sacramento Republic FC got goals in either half, both assisted by Sammy Ochoa, as it took a 2-0 victory against Seattle Sounders FC 2 in front of a sellout crowd of 11,569 at Papa Murphy’s Park on Sunday night. Sacramento (8-6-4, 28pts) got onto the front foot from the off, and in the 16th minute its pressure paid off as a cross by Sammy Ochoa was volleyed home well by Trevin Caesar from 14 yards out. Seattle (7-11-2, 23pts) went close in the 26th minute off a free kick by Irvin Parra that went just wide of the left post, and Shandon Hopeau put a good header on goal after a deep cross from the left that forced a save as S2 came into the game more. Caesar almost added a second for Republic FC just past the half-hour mark, but put a rebound chance wide of the right post after Wilson Kneeshaw’s initial shot had been saved. Sacramento took a two-goal lead on the hour-mark as Tyler Blackwood found the net from a tight angle on the left as he tried to cross, only to find the right side-netting. S2 almost answered immediately as Jackson Ragen had a header turned wide by Republic FC goalkeeper Evan Newton. S2’s Franciso Narbon also hit the top of the right post with 17 minutes to go, but the visitors were unable to cut into Republic FC’s lead as the hosts moved back into fourth place in the Western Conference.
16’ – SAC – Trevin Caesar (Sammy Ochoa)
60’ – SAC – Tyler Blackwood (Sammy Ochoa)
Three Things That Matter:
1. With the playoff race in the USL Western Conference starting to tighten, Sacramento Republic picked up an important victory to first move back into fourth place in the standings, but also give a little bit of a cushion on those below them as they returned to USL action. The energy shown early got the hosts on top, and while Republic FC will likely be disappointed to not have taken full advantage of its scoring chances, there’s plenty to build on, with four wins in the last five games the upward trend the side is on is unmistakable.
2. Sacramento recorded a shutout on Sunday night, but aside from the side’s finishing the biggest thing Republic FC will be looking to improve on in the coming two weeks is its defensive cover. After regaining its footing following Sacramento’s early pressure, S2 created its fair share of chances and easily could have made the conclusion to the game more fraught for the hosts. Tightening up in its own half, and giving away fewer set-piece opportunities will be key to contending with the top three in the conference.
3. The chances Seattle created provided a silver lining on another tough night results-wise as the side fell for a fourth consecutive outing. S2’s position in eighth place in the Western Conference is made all-the-more precarious by the fact that it has now only 12 games to go in the regular season, and will need to put in a run of results to give it a chance at a postseason berth. The way the side played on Sunday night indicated that run is possible, but with a meeting against fellow playoff battler Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC next on the docket, it has to start soon for the young but talented squad.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Sammy Ochoa, Sacramento Republic FC – Ochoa recorded assists on both goals, and was lively as he tried to spark Sacramento’s attack regularly throughout the contest.
Sacramento Republic FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 – August 5, 11 p.m. ET, Papa Murphy’s Park
Seattle Sounders FC 2 at Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC – July 29, 8 p.m. ET, Weidner Field