Sacramento’s dramatic 1-0 win over Tacoma Defiance earned the club a crucial three points in the Pacific Division standings. After entering mid way through the second half, Darek Formella and Kharlton Belmar combined for the match’s lone score, while a lights out defensive performance from the SRFC Back line kept Tacoma scoreless for the clubs fifth clean sheet of the season and first since August 11.
Mid way through the first half, Mark Briggs began making adjustments to the club’s attacking corps, which had threatened all night long but just couldn’t find a way to break through. His decisions– Darek Formella for Jerome Kiesewetter, Cam Iwasa for Patrick Weah, and Kharlton Belmar for Mario Penagos– paid off in the 78th minute, when Belmar shook off a Tacoma defender and served a cross in to Formella, who netted the attempt to give Sacramento a 1-0 advantage.
The score was Formella’s first since Sacramento’s 3-1 victory over Red Bulls II to close out July, and the club’s fourth game-winning score in the final 20 minutes of a match this season. Sacramento has now come from behind to secure a win or draw in the closing minutes three times in Septemberand six times total, with substitutes finding net on four of those occasions.
While Sacramento would do well to keep possession for most of the evening, Tacoma would knock on the door throughout the contest in response. Republic FC’s defense stood their ground, tallying 14 clearances, blocking three shots, and intercepting 17 passes from their Washington foes. Rafa Diaz claimed his first shutout performance of the season, making three excellent saves to keep Sacramento in the game, and Nabi Kibunguchy was dominant one on one in easily his best performance of the season.
Part of Sacramento’s midfield unit that turned transition into opportunity all night long, Emil Cuello was a threat on the ball for the entire match. The Argentine winger put three shots on frame, and created multiple chances to score for the second straight contest. His 4th minute header off a Patrick Weah cross nearly put Sacramento ahead early, and his shot off a free kick in the 64th looked to sneak past the post if not for a great save from Tacoma Goalkeeper Christian Herrera.
"The four in the middle of the field were very disciplined tonight,” said Coach Mark Briggs. “Which is what you need to do when you play against 3-5-2 or 3-4-4 formation. They all dictated very well with that discipline and were constantly in good areas from a defensive standpoint.”
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