SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (May 19, 2018) — Sacramento Republic FC bounce back from their loss to Reno with an emphatic 3-1 victory over Phoenix Rising FC. Goals from Cameron Iwasa, Villyan Bijev and Wilson Kneeshaw, along with a standout performance from Josh Cohen in goal, ensured Republic FC left Arizona with all three points.
Although Phoenix controlled the opening minutes of the match, it was Republic FC that capitalized on their first chance to open the scoring in the 8th minute. Center back Carlos Rodriguez sent a perfectly weighted long ball from the defensive third to Iwasa. The forward muscled off his mark before placing a perfect strike far post to beat Zac Lubin for the early 1-0 lead. The goal was Iwasa’s fifth of the USL season and his second assisted by Carlos Rodriguez.
Midfielders Bijev and Matjasic then combined to double Republic FC’s advantage in the 21st minute. Bijev sent a ball out wide to Matjasic who got in behind the defense and drove down to the touchline before squaring off a ball back to Bijev at the top of the box. The Bulgarian fired a shot on his first touch past Lubin to put Sacramento up 2-0. The goal was Bijev’s second of the USL season as Matjasic recorded his first assist.
Phoenix had a chance to cut Republic FC’s lead in half when they were awarded a penalty kick in the 32nd minute after Carlos Rodriguez was deemed to made contact with an attacker in the box. Didier Drogba stepped up to the spot to face former teammate Josh Cohen, but his shot was saved initially by the Republic FC keeper. The rebound from the shot fell on Droba’s feet, but before the former Chelsea striker could fire off another attempt, Rodriguez slid in with a tackle to strip him of the ball. Solomon Asante followed up and got a shot off that ended up in the back of the net, but the goal was called off as he was deemed to have fouled Cohen on the play.
Cohen made another fantastic save on Drogba from a free kick a few minutes later, going full stretch to make a diving save and take his side into halftime with a 2-0 lead for a second consecutive match in USL play.
Phoenix pulled a goal back through second-half substitute Chris Cortez. Kevon Lambert sent a cross to the far post that Asante squared back to Cortex in the middle of the box. The former Chivas USA forward took a step towards the ball and blasted it into the top of the net to bring his side within a goal of Sacramento. Jason Johnson nearly had the equalizer in the 81st minute after a through ball led him towards goal but Johnson lofted his shot out of play.
Republic FC put the game out of reach with a third goal in the 88th minute. Bijev sprung Wilson Kneeshaw, who entered the match three minutes prior, free on a counter attack and the Englishman did the rest as he sprinted past the defense and beat an oncoming challenge from Lubin. The goal was Kneeshaw’s first of the season.
The home side continued to seek the equalizer and Cohen was called into action once more in stoppage time, denying Drogba on another free kick to secure the 3-1 victory.
Republic FC next travel to Nevada on Wednesday, May 23, to face Reno 1868 FC in the Third Round of the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Greater Nevada Field. Sacramento’s next USL match will be Tuesday, May 29th, when they travel to Salt Lake City to take on Real Monarchs SLC.
Scoring Summary: SRFC – Cameron Iwasa (Carlos Rodriguez) 8, Villyan Bijev (Jure Matjasic) 21, Wilson Kneeshaw (Villyan Bijev) 88; PHX – Chris Cortez (Solomon Asante) 61
Misconduct Summary: SRFC – Carlos Rodriguez (caution) 32, Villyan Bijev (caution) 39, Shannon Gomez (caution) 41, Jure Matjasic (caution) 65, Mitchell Taintor (caution) 90; PHX – Kody Wakasa (caution) 45, Mike da Fonte (caution) 59, Didier Drogba (caution) 90
Sacramento Republic FC – Josh Cohen, Shannon Gomez, Carlos Rodriguez, Mitchell Taintor, Justin Schmidt, Adam Moffat (Wilson Kneeshaw 85), Hayden Partain (Jaime Villarreal 60), Jeremy Hall, Villyan Bijev, Cameron Iwasa, Jure Matjasic (Josh Turnley 65).
Subs Not Used: Rafa Diaz, Keven Aleman, Cole Seiler, Elliott Hord.
Stats: Shots: 6, Shots on Goal: 3, Saves: 6, Fouls: 14, Corner Kicks: 0, Offside: 1.
Phoenix Rising FC – Zac Lubin, Mike da Fonte (Alessandro Riggi 77), James Musa, Joseph Farrell, Amadou Dia, Kevon Lambert, Gladson Awako (Chris Cortez 54), Kody Wakasa, Jason Johnson (Kevaughn Frater 83), Didier Drogba, Solomon Asante.
Subs Not Used: Carl Woszczynski, Doueugui Mala, Collin Fernandez, Devante Dubose.
Stats: Shots: 23, Shots on Goal: 7, Saves: 0, Fouls: 13, Corner Kicks: 10, Offside: 2.
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