Photo by Chris Nicoll / USA TODAY Sports
By RYAN TOLMICH
Just days after winning the USL Pro championship in the club’s inaugural season, Sacramento Republic were back in action against MLS opposition.
Republic FC, who captured the league title Saturday with a 2-0 victory over the Harrisburg City Islanders, fell by that same scoreline Tuesday in a sold-out friendly with Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium thanks to second-half goals from RSL’s Robbie Findley and Sebastian Velasquez.
RSL, long famous for their diamond formation, opted to use the friendly as a chance to experiment with a 4-3-3, while also giving debuts to homegrown player Justen Glad and goalkeeper Lalo Fernandez. Meanwhile, Republic FC boasted a lineup full of regulars including star forward Rodrigo Lopez and 2014 USL PRO Defender of the Year Nemanja Vukovic.
After a prodding first half that saw both teams earn chances to score, Findley opened the scoring 12 minutes into the game’s second stanza with a penalty kick.
Republic FC defender Micky Daly, who nearly scored a goal of his own in the 35th minute, was called for the penalty in the 57th minute after seemingly stripping Findley of the ball on the edge of the box. However, Daly’s tackle was ruled a foul, as Findley stepped up to the spot and converted to give RSL the lead.
Findley nearly added a second goal via a one-on-one opportunity in the 63rd minute, but the RSL forward’s effort curled just wide of the far post. Cole Grossman also had his chance to increase RSL’s advantage in the 80th minute, but the defender’s open look from the top of the box sailed just over the crossbar.
The hosts were finally able to double their lead in extra time via Velasquez, whose left footed curler sealed victory for RSL.
The scoring sequence was kickstarted by forward Devon Sandoval, who won his side the ball deep in Republic FC’s half. Sandoval’s tackle saw the ball head to RSL defender Rich Balchan, who played Velasquez into enough space to rip a shot past Republic FC goalkeeper Dominik Jakubek.
RSL, who currently sit in third place in the Western Conference, return to action Sunday with a trip to StubHub Center to take on Chivas USA.
Check out the match highlights below: