SACRAMENTO, California (March 7, 2020)– Republic FC kicked off the 2020 USL Championship regular season home opener with a 1-1 draw against FC Tulsa in front of a sell-out crowd at Papa Murphy’s Park on Saturday night.
Mark Briggs’ men put plenty of pressure on the visitors and outshot the opposition 16 to 4 on the contest (eight shots on target compared to Tulsa’s two). In ten all-time matches against Tulsa, Republic FC has never lost to the midwestern club.
“I just said to the players there, we’re one point better off than we were before we started, so that’s a positive,” Republic FC Head Coach Mark Briggs said. “We didn’t win the game like we wanted to. I think we could have been a bit more clinical in front of goal with our final pass, our final shot, whatever that maybe and I think the game would have been different.”
A number of Republic FC players made their Indomitable Club debuts against FC Tulsa, including defender Hayden Sargis and midfielder Mario Penagos who both earned spots in the first team starting eleven for the first time in their young career during a USL Championship regular season game. Both 17-year-old SRFC Academy products signed their first professional contracts with the club in January.
Also debuting in the starting lineup on Saturday night were goalkeeper Adam Grinwis and midfielder Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu, with the former MLS Cup champion finishing the match with a team-high five interceptions.
The match was a physical affair and featured seven yellow cards between the two clubs. Defensively, SRFC held the visitors to just two shots on the entire night.
In the 42nd minute of a feisty first half, defender Hayden Sargis, making his first career USL Championship start, rifled a towering longball to fellow defender Juan Barahona on the left flank. The Salvadoran left back spotted Drew Skundrich at the top of the box and delivered a perfectly placed ball to the midfielder. Skundrich pulled the ball back to his left foot and tucked his shot just inside the bottom corner to lift Sacramento to a 1-0 lead.
Club legend Rodrigo Lopez officially returned to the pitch for Republic FC in the 69th minute when the midfielder entered the match as a substitute for Penagos.
Tulsa equalized in the 79th minute when Lebo Moloto picked out Rodrigo da Costa to level the match at 1-1. The Brazilian playmaker finished the 2019 season in Tulsa as the team leader in both goals (9) and assists (13) and was the only player from a non-playoff team to be named to the 2019 Championship All-League Team.
Defender Ashkanov Apollon, who earned a first team contract after impressing during open tryouts and preseason training camp, made his first career appearance for the boys in Old Glory Red as a second half substitute in the 83rd minute.
Republic FC continued pushing forward creating chances, ten to be exact on the night, but were unable to snag a late winner against a tricky Tulsa team as the Indomitable Club earned their first point in the Western Conference standings of the young Championship campaign.
Next up for the boys in Old Glory Red is a trip to Sin City to take on Eric Wynalda’s Las Vegas Lights FC next Saturday, March 14 at 7:30 p.m. PT.
Sacramento Republic FC 1-1 FC Tulsa
Papa Murphy’s Park, Sacramento, California
Attendance: 11,569 (sell out)
March 7, 2020
Scoring Summary:SAC – Drew Skundrich (Juan Barahona) 42; TUL – Rodrigo da Costa (Lebo Moloto) 79.
Misconduct Summary:SAC – Drew Skundrich (caution) 23, Hayden Sargis (caution) 27, Juan Barahona (caution) 33; TUL - Lebo Moloto (caution) 24, Matt Sheldon (caution) 60, Kevin Garcia (caution) 68, Ariel Martinez (caution) 90.
Sacramento Republic FC – Adam Grinwis; Matt Mahoney, Hayden Sargis, Dekel Keinan, Juan Barahona; Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu, Drew Skundrich, Villyan Bijev (Ashkanov Apollon 83), Sam Werner, Mario Penagos (Rodrigo Lopez 68), Cameron Iwasa.
Unused substitutes: Diego Ramos, Tomas Hilliard-Arce, Aris Yang, Jaime Villarreal, Julian Chavez.
Stats– Shots: 16, Shots on Goal: 8, Saves: 1, Fouls: 16, Corner Kicks: 5, Offsides: 3.
FC Tulsa– Sean Lewis, Matt Sheldon (Cristhian Altamirano 78), Kevin Garcia, Bradley Bourgeois, Solomon Kwambe, Lebo Moloto, Rodrigo da Costa, Marlon Santos, Panin Boakye (Raphael Ayagwa 56), Ariel Martinez, Pedro Castro (Tobenna Uzo 71).
Unused substitutes: Bryan Byars, Vengjel Zguro, Maicon da Silva.
Stats– Shots: 4, Shots on Goal: 2, Saves: 7, Fouls: 17, Corner Kicks: 0, Offsides: 1.
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