Sacramento Republic FC

On this Day: Republic FC Bests EPL's Sunderland AFC at Heart Health Park

July 14, 2023 - United Soccer League Championship (USL)
Sacramento Republic FC News Release

Since the club's 2014 debut, Republic FC has played over 300 matches in total across all competitions. A variety of opponents have lined up opposite the Quails across ten seasons of play - but few boast more historical significance than the side that visited Heart Health Park on this day in 2015. Mid-way through the club's Sophomore season, Republic FC played its second of three international club friendly matches for the season by welcoming England's Sunderland AFC - a side then competing in the prestigious English Premier League - to the River City.

Sunderland's squad boasted players who now feature in some of the game's top leagues - or were some of the world's best at the time. Goalkeeper Vito Mannone, currently of French side FC Lorient, was in the starting XI between the sticks. Wes Brown, a legend from his time with powerhouse Manchester United, and Lee Cattermole, who finished his career second on the historic club's all-time appearances leaderboard, each played all 90 minutes on the backline. Jermain Defoe - who featured for the English National team for over a decade from 2004-2017 - started up top alongside Scottish National Team veteran Steven Fletcher. But all that firepower didn't keep the Quails from a 1-0 victory in the contest, proving even one of the world's oldest and most renowned outfits could be bested by the Indomitable Club.

Starting XI: Patrick McClain, Emrah Klimenta, Mickey Daly (Derek Foran 69'), James Kiffe, Nemaja Vukovic, Octavio Guzman (Joaquin Rivas 64'), Ivan Mirkovic (Zeb Taublieb 89'), Max Alvarez, Thomas Stewart (Adnan Gabeljic 67'), Kaleemullah (Cameron Iwasa 57')

Scoring Summary: SAC - Cameron Iwasa (Max Alvarez) 58' SUN - None

Opportunites were plentiful for either side, but few in the opening half were particularly dangerous as strong defensive work crowded both boxes for the bulk of the first half. An early chance in the fifth minute for Sacramento saw Emrah Klimenta get a clear shot at goal, but the ball sailed just high of the bar. The visitors came close to opening the scoring in the 25th minute on the other end, putting a shot just wide of the target as goalkeeper Patrick McClain pursued. Sacramento made things difficult for their foes in the second half, finishing the match with 20 total shots.

It was one of the club's eventual record-holding players - Cameron Iwasa - who put in the game-winner when with the game's only score in the 58th minute. As the ball crossed the line, Iwasa had been on the field for just 40 seconds after entering for Pakistani youngster Kaleemullah Khan. It was the Sacramento native's second career goal following his account-opening score in April.

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