SACRAMENTO, California (March 12, 2022) – Late-game heroics sent Sacramento home with three points against El Paso Locomotive FC on opening night at Heart Health Park. An 85th minute score from Douglas Martinez and a 90th minute goal from Keko Gontan – their first in a Republic FC uniform – sealed the deal after a physical contest.
“The boys showed great character tonight, and stuck together through a tough first half,” said Head Coach Mark Briggs following the match. “In the second half, we came out and made a few adjustments and showed what this club is all about.”
El Paso came out of the gate firing, putting a ton of pressure on Republic FC’s backline to open the match. The visitors nearly found the net just after the seven-minute mark, when midfielder Diego Luna corralled a save from Carlos Saldana, but put his attempt just wide of the target. Not a minute later, the visitors were given a chance from the penalty spot after a foul from Dan Casey brought down Richie Ryan. The 8th minute attempt was stopped by Carlos Saldana to keep things scoreless.
Republic FC would begin to manufacture chances as the first half went on. Defender Jack Gurr came inches from giving Sacramento the lead in the 20th minute; after receiving a pass from the left, the Englishman let loose a rocket that went just a hair high, deflecting off the crossbar just out of reach of Evan Newton. However, Locomotive FC broke the draw in the 28th when Emmanuel Sonupe punched one through off an assist by Diego Luna.
Sacramento wouldn’t go into the break without a score. After the referee signaled for three minutes of stoppage time, Rodrigo Lopez was called to the penalty spot after being taken down by goalkeeper Evan Newton. The veteran buried the attempt, pulling the hosts even and securing his 30th career score in USL Championship play.
After each squad made some adjustments at the break, the second half went back and forth. El Paso nearly pulled ahead in the 65th minute, but a phenomenal save by Carlos Saldana rejected the visitors most dangerous opportunity of the entire match – a close range poke kicked away by Sacramento’s keeper. The stop helped build momentum, allowing Mark Briggs’ men to keep chipping away.
Sacramento got closer and closer to finding net as time ticked away. As Mark Briggs made changes, putting on Keko Gontan and Zeiko Lewis, more chances came. On the heels of Douglas Martinez’s go ahead score, Keko would also find the net for Republic FC’s third score of the night.
Republic FC is back in action next week. Week 2 of the 2022 USL Championship season for Sacramento continues from San Diego, when Republic FC takes on San Diego Loyal SC at Torero Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and the match will be broadcast live on Antenna TV 40.2, FOX40.com and the FOX40 app.
Sacramento Republic FC 3 – 1 El Paso Locomotive FC
Heart Health Park, Sacramento, California
March 12, 2022
Scoring Summary: SAC– Rodrigo Lopez (penalty) 45+2’, Douglas Martinez (Ferrety Sousa) 85’, Keko Gontan (Douglas Martinez) 90’ ELP– Emmanuel Sonupe (Diego Luna) 27’
Misconduct Summary: SAC – Dan Casey (caution) 8’, Nick Ross (caution) 58’, Keko Gontan (caution) 88’ ELP – Martin Payares (caution) 31’, Evan Newton (caution) 45+2’, Richie Ryan (caution) 45+2’, Diego Luna (caution) 45+2’
Sacramento Republic FC: Carlos Saldaña, Jack Gurr, Dan Casey, Lee Desmond, Ferrety Sousa, Luis Felipe, Matt LaGrassa, Rodrigo Lopez (C), Nick Ross (Zeiko Lewis 63’), Emil Cuello (Keko Gontan 82’), Douglas Martinez Jr.
Unused substitutes: Danny Vitiello, Mario Penagos, Rafa Jauregui, Tiago Suarez, Chase Tanon
Stats – Shots: 11, Shots on Goal: 4, Saves: 4, Fouls: 14, Corner Kicks: 1, Offsides: 2
El Paso Locomotive FC: Evan Newton, Andrew Fox, Shavon John Brown (Harry Brockbank 45’), Martin Payares (Eder Borelli 78’), Ander Eguilez, Richie Ryan, Sebastian Velasquez (Ricardo Zacarias 28’), Diego Luna, Dylan Mares (Eric Calvillo 78’), Emmanuel Sonupe, Christiano Francois (Nick Hinds 78’)
Unused substitutes: Rommel Tarin, Noe Coutino
Stats – Shots: 13, Shots on Goal: 5, Saves: 2, Fouls: 13, Corner Kicks: 1, Offsides: 4