Short-Handed Sacramento Republic FC Rally over Orange County SC
SACRAMENTO, California - Republic FC's never-say-die mentality shined bright for the second straight game as the boys in Old Glory Red came-from-behind once again to claim a thrilling 2-1 win at Papa Murphy's Park on Wednesday night.
The win was the Indomitable Club's six consecutive victory - matching Sacramento's all-time record during regular season play which was accomplished during the inaugural season in 2014 - as Mark Briggs' men now head into Saturday's showdown for the top spot in Group A against Reno 1868 FC level with the Nevadan club on 24 points.
"To have a comeback like that, be up against the wall with 10 men and play some of the football that we played, move the ball at the speed that we did, create opportunities and then to come up with two big goal, you have to credit the players, the players attitude, the players mentality, and the culture of the group," said Republic FC Head Coach Mark Briggs following the win. "It's almost as if [the team said] 'we're down, decisions are going against us, let's get together, we can still do this'. It's pleasing to see against one of the better teams in the league."
To open the midweek matchup, OCSC striker Sean Okoli netted his sixth goal on the USL Championship campaign when he found the back of the net in the fifth minute to lift the SoCal club to an early 1-0 advantage.
Over the course of the evening, including two minutes prior to Orange County's opener, goalkeeper Rafael Diaz made one of his four massive stops on the night to keep his side within one. In the second half, Rafa collected crucial saves in the 57th minute and 66th minute, the latter Diaz sacrificing himself to preserve the one-goal deficit.
In the 58th minute, Sacramento went a man down for the remainder of the match after Rodrigo Lopez was handed a red card by the referee.
But a resilient Republic FC side surged back by way of Dariusz Formella when the Polish playmaker nabbed his team-best fifth of the campaign after steering a Khalrton Belmar shot by the visiting goalkeeper to level the match 1-1. Jaime Villarreal spotted Belmar at the top of the box and the former VCU Ram rifled a low attempt that Formella guided on target for the equalizer in the 79th minute. The assist was Belmar's second with Sacramento.
Eight minutes later and for the second straight game, SRFC surged back to seize a late lead after falling behind when Villyan Bijev slammed a shot that kissed the inside of the post and into goal to lift the hosts to a stunning 2-1 win. Villarreal continued staying active on the offensive front and the midfielder was credited with the assist after he played a ball to Bijev on the right and the Bulgarian-born winger's touch sliced between the post and the 'keeper for the Indomitable Club's sixth straight victory.
"We're the Indomitable Club, right? We're the Indomitable City and I thought the players showed that indomitable spirit, that never say die attitude and ultimately that's what ended up getting us three points," Briggs said in the postmatch press conference. "I'm extremely proud of the players, extremely proud of everyone associated with the club to be quite honest. That was a great result for everyone."
The boys in Old Glory Red have a quick turnaround when Reno 1868 FC visits Papa Murphy's Park this Saturday night. Kickoff for the regional rivalry clash is set for 7:30 p.m. PT and a win for the Indomitable Club would propel Mark Briggs' men into first place in Group A.
Sacramento Republic FC 2-1 Orange County SC
Papa Murphy's Park, Sacramento, California
September 9, 2020
Scoring Summary: OC - Sean Okoli 5'; SAC - Dariusz Formella (Kharlton Belmar) 79', Villyan Bijev (Jaime Villarreal) 87'
Misconduct Summary: OC - Aodhan Quinn (caution) 34', Cammy Palmer (caution) 72'; SAC - Dariusz Formella (caution) 48', Rodrigo Lopez (red) 58'.
Sacramento Republic FC - Rafael Diaz; Ashkanov Apollon, Hayden Sargis, Matt Mahoney, Jordan McCrary, Rodrigo Lopez, Drew Skundrich ©, Villyan Bijev (Dekel Keinan 90'), Dariusz Formella, Sam Werner (Jaime Villarreal 69'), Cameron Iwasa (Kharlton Belmar 45').
Unused substitutes: Brady Scott, Shannon Gomez, Tomas Hilliard-Arce, Rafael Jauregui.
Stats- Shots: 19, Shots on Goal: 5, Saves: 4, Fouls: 10, Corner Kicks: 4, Offsides: 1.
Orange County SC-Aaron Cervantes; Daniel Finlayson, Nathan Smith, Kobi Henry (Kevin Alston 76'), Rob Kiernan; Brian Iloski, Aodhan Quinn, Seth Casiple (Daniel Cristostomo 67'), Cammy Palmer (Edson Alvarado 80'); Sean Okoli, Darwin Jones (Chandler Hoffman 76').
Unused substitutes: Diego Lopez, Frederik Due, Francis Jacobs.
Stats- Shots: 18, Shots on Goal: 5, Saves: 3, Fouls: 19, Corner Kicks: 7, Offsides: 3.
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