Photo courtesy Sacramento Republic FC
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sacramento Republic FC’s Tyler Blackwood scored with two minutes to go to earn his side a 2-2 draw against the Swope Park Rangers on Wednesday night in front of a sellout crowd of 11,569 fans at Papa Murphy’s Park in a top-five Western Conference clash that saw the visitors take the lead twice. Swope Park came out of the blocks quickly, and took the lead in the fourth minute as Soony Saad drove home a central shot from 25 yards. Both teams had chances soon after, with SPR’s Kharlton Belmar threatening to double the lead before Republic FC’s Trevin Caesar was denied by a good challenge by Rangers defender Oumar Ballo. Swope Park went close again on the half-hour mark as Republic FC goalkeeper smothered a chance for Nansel Selbol, but Republic FC hit back in the 36th minute as Emrah Klimenta’s free kick hit the crossbar, allowing Wilson Kneeshaw to knock home the rebound. Both Caesar and Blackwood had chances to give the hosts the lead 10 minutes into the second half, but the Rangers regained the lead midway in the 68th minute as Belmar tapped home a turning cross by Christian Duke from the left side of the penalty area. Sacramento almost found an equalizer with four minutes to go as Harry Williams had his chance squeezed out and deflected behind for a corner kick, but two minutes later a fine cross from the right by Elliot Hord was volleyed home by Blackwood into the right corner of the net to earn Republic FC a point.
4’ – SPR – Soony Saad (Christian Duke)
36’ – SAC – Wilson Kneeshaw
68’ – SPR – Kharlton Belmar (Christian Duke)
88’ – SAC – Tyler Blackwood (Elliot Hord)
Three Things That Matter:
1. After a strong comeback in their most recent outing, the Rangers took the game to their hosts from the opening kickoff and were rewarded after only four minutes as Soony Saad produced a great piece of quality in his loan appearance for the side. Swope Park looked determined to make it difficult for its hosts to settle into the game as it kicked off a big trip to the west coast, and the sharp start to the game the visitors provided ended up setting the tempo for what was to come.
2. Sacramento was looking for a bounce-back performance after Saturday’s defeat to Reno 1868 FC, and earned a point as it notched a pair of excellent goals against a Swope Park defense that had recorded nine shutouts previously this season. Republic FC’s raised intensity in the final 10 minutes produced an outstanding equalizer as Tyler Blackwood’s volley into the right corner of the net earned the hosts a point that illustrated how difficult Sacramento is to defeat on home turf.
3. With wins so crucial at this point of the season, a draw might feel like an unsatisfactory result for both, but particularly the Rangers as they were held for a fourth consecutive outing and slipped a further two points back of second-place San Antonio FC on Wednesday night. Swope Park’s visit to Reno 1868 FC on Saturday night now takes on an even bigger meaning as 1868 FC will have the chance to move into third place in the conference standings with a win, a result SPR will be eager to avoid.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Tyler Blackwood, Sacramento Republic FC – Blackwood scored an excellent equalizer to earn Sacramento a point late, and created three other scoring chances on the night in a game that lived up to its high expectations.
Sacramento Republic FC at Phoenix Rising FC – August 26, 11 p.m. ET, Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex
Swope Park Rangers at Reno 1868 FC – August 26, 10:30 p.m. ET, Greater Nevada Field