After both teams struggled to find an offensive flow in the beginning of the match, Sacramento Republic FC found their stride in the 16th minute. Forward Trevin Caesar attacked down the left side of the pitch before sending a low cross into the box for Sammy Ochoa, who slyly dummied the ball between his legs. Midfielder Villyan Bijev tracked the ball into the box before rifling a right-footed shot just wide of the near post. Moments after Bijev’s near miss, Caesar nearly broke loose on an empty net but Phoenix Rising FC keeper Josh Cohen came off his line to force Caesar out towards the sideline.
Phoenix had a great chance of their own go begging in the 27th minute. Forward Chris Cortez sent a short cross into the box just in front of Republic FC keeper Evan Newton. Jason Johnson won the aerial battle and sent a looping header towards goal. Newton had to retreat back and fully outstretch for the header. The ball looked dangerous as it dipped and hit the top of the crossbar with Newton cleverly letting it go out of play as to not concede a corner kick. The match would stay scoreless through halftime.
Republic FC captain Emrah Klimenta put his stamp on the match in the 49th minute. Phoenix midfielder Matt Watson was whistled and carded for a handball just outside the box. Klimenta stood over the spot from 20 yards out and curled a right-footed shot over the wall and past Cohen for the emphatic 1-0 lead for Republic FC.
Agustin Cazarez would add a second goal for Republic FC in the 54th minute. Strong build-up play led Bijev up the left wing with the ball. Bijev coolly slid a pass into the middle before the defense could get to him and the ball found the feet of Cazarez. The Republic FC midfield mainstay settled the ball in front of him before sending a left-footed shot on frame that beat Cohen and hit the back of the net.
Newton made a crucial save in the 77th minute to preserve the two-goal lead for his side. Gladson Awako sent a free kick cross into the box and through the traffic the ball fell loose in front of goal. Newton quickly pounced on the ball and stopped the Phoenix attack. Republic FC held off the last ditch efforts of Phoenix to secure the 2-0 victory and a vital 3 points in the final home match of the regular season.
“We were resilient and we had great fight,” said Republic FC Head Coach and Technical Director Paul Buckle. “This atmosphere felt like a playoff match with the support [from the fans]. The boys did the job and hopefully we can take a lot of belief from this performance. This was a true Republic performance.”
Republic FC will begin a three-match road trip to end the season when they travel south to take on Orange County SC on Wednesday, Oct. 4. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. at Orange County Great Park. The match will be streamed live at SacRepublicFC.com/matchday-guide.
Scoring Summary: SRFC – Emrah Klimenta 49, Agustin Cazarez (Villyan Bijev) 54
Misconduct Summary: PHX – Sam Hamilton (caution) 34, Matt Watson (caution) 48; SRFC – Peter McGlynn (caution) 45, James Kiffe (caution) 60, Jeremy Hall (caution) 76
Phoenix Rising FC – Josh Cohen, Kody Wakasa, Jordan Stewart, Doueugui Marie Mala, Alessandro Riggi (AJ Gray 73), Sam Hamilton (Shaun Wright-Phillips 62), Matt Watson, Amadou Dia, Gladson Awako (Eric Avila 88), Jason Johnson, Chris Cortez.
Subs Not Used: John Berner, Blair Gavin, Peter Ramage, Jordan Gibbons.
Stats: Shots: 11, Shots on Goal: 4, Saves: 2, Fouls: 19, Corner Kicks: 3, Offside: 0.
Sacramento Republic FC – Evan Newton, James Kiffe, Emrah Klimenta, Chris Christian, Peter McGlynn, Agustin Cazarez, Jeremy Hall, Luis Espino (Christian Chaney 87), Villyan Bijev, Trevin Caesar (Tyler Blackwood 68), Sammy Ochoa (Gabe Gissie 90).
Subs Not Used: Dominik Jakubek, Carlos Rodriguez, Elliott Hord, Matt Wiesenfarth.
Stats: Shots: 8, Shots on Goal: 3, Saves: 4, Fouls: 16, Corner Kicks: 3, Offside: 1.