COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 14, 2018) — Villyan Bijev headed home a first-half free kick to see Sacramento Republic FC defeat Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC 1-0 at Weidner Field on Saturday night.
Before either team had really settled into the game, central referee Joe Wykowsk was forced to suspend the match in the eighth minute due to the presence of lightning.
The match resumed an hour later and Republic FC was the first to threaten with an excellent chance in the 28th minute. Emrah Klimenta, making his first start for the club in 2018, sent a driven ball into the box across the face of goal, but Christian Eissele was unable to properly connect with it and head it on target.
Switchbacks FC had their best chance of the half on a three-on-one fast break in the 32nd minute. Miscommunication between Adam Moffat and Mitchell Taintor turned the ball over to AJ Ajeakwa and left Taintor isolated against three attackers. Ajeakwa drew Taintor’s mark and laid the ball off to Martin Maybin who was open at the top of the box, but the forward fired his shot well over the bar when he had just Josh Cohen to beat.
Bijev then put Republic FC ahead in the 37th minute, heading home a perfectly placed cross from Jaime Villarreal’s free kick after Shannon Gomez was fouled on the left flank.
The goal was Bijev’s third of the season and the former Liverpool FC player could have easily had a hat trick before the two teams entered halftime.
Just two minutes after his goal, Bijev received a long ball on the left wing and dribbled past two Colorado Springs players into the box before firing a shot on goal that was blocked just in front of the goal line by a Switchbacks FC defender. With seconds to play in the half, Gomez found Bijev unmarked at the top of the box, but the midfielder’s left-footed shot went inches wide of Steward Ceus’ right post.
Bijev had another opportunity in the 64th minute after receiving a pass from Cameron Iwasa in the box, beating his defender and firing a shot at the near post, but Ceus’ diving save kept Sacramento’s lead at one goal.
Two minutes later, Bijev maneuvered into the box and laid a square ball to an onrushing Iwasa, but the Sacramento native was only able to skiff the ball over the crossbar after two defenders tackled him on the play.
Bijev and Iwasa linked up again in the 76th minute, with the former collecting a ball on the left wing and sending a cross in. Iwasa connected with the pass, but his header was off target.
Cohen made a key save just minutes later to keep Republic FC’s lead intact after coming off his line to block an open shot on goal from Ajeakwa. The keeper was called into action once more in the seventh and final minute of stoppage time, making a low, diving save on a Nicholas Amoako effort to preserve Sacramento’s second straight win on the road.
Republic FC return home next week to face Oklahoma City Energy on Saturday, July 21, at Papa Murphy’s Park. Tickets to the match are available via Ticketmaster.com.
Scoring Summary: SAC – Villyan Bijev (Jaime Villarreal) 37.
Misconduct Summary: SAC – Villyan Bijev (caution) 35, Cole Seiler (caution) 85, Emrah Klimenta (caution) 90+6; COS – Kip Colvey (caution) 58, Tobenna Uzo (caution) 88.
Sacramento Republic FC – Josh Cohen, Emrah Klimenta, Mitchell Taintor (Jeremy Hall 61), Justin Schmidt, Shannon Gomez, Adam Moffat, Jaime Villarreal, Luis Espino (Cole Seiler 80), Cameron Iwasa, Villyan Bijev, Christian Eissele (Wilson Kneeshaw 70).
Subs Not Used: Rafael Diaz, Elliott Hord, Josh Turnley, Quincy Butler.
Stats: Shots: 15, Shots on Goal: 2, Saves: 2, Fouls: 9, Corner Kicks: 10, Offside: 1.
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC – Steward Ceus, Jordan Burt, Jamal Jack, Kip Colvey, Josh Suggs, Shane Malcolm (Saeed Robinson 54), Jordan Schweitzer, Sam Hamilton, AJ Ajeakwa, Karsten Hanlin (Nicholas Amoako 62), Martin Maybin (Tobenna Uzo 74).
Subs Not Used: Uriel Macias, Moise Pouaty, Luke Vercollone, Kim Tae-Seong.
Stats: Shots: 6, Shots on Goal: 2, Saves: 1, Fouls: 9, Corner Kicks: 3, Offside: 5.
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