Sacramento Republic FC took the lead twice in the first half through Sam Werner and Villyan Bijev but ended up succumbing to a 4-3 defeat to the San Jose Earthquakes to end its run in the 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. | Photo courtesy Sacramento Republic
SAN JOSE, Calif. – For a second consecutive visit to Avaya Stadium in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the USL Championship’s Sacramento Republic FC held the lead.
But as it had four years ago when the side last visited the San Jose Earthquakes in the Fourth Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the hosts rallied to advance as a pair of late goals by Vako Qazaishvili lifted the Quakes to a 4-3 victory on Tuesday night and a place in the Round of 16 in the 106th edition of the tournament.
Republic FC struck after just 77 seconds when Villyan Bijev led an attack down the right side. His low cross was deflected by a Quakes defender but caromed nicely for Sam Werner to fire a first-time shot into the left corner of the net from 12 yards out.
The Quakes hit back in the 10th minute as a turnover by Sacramento in its own half gave possession to Magnus Eriksson, and the Swedish midfielder took full advantage as he moved toward the top of the penalty area and fired home low into the right corner of the net. It took only four minutes for Republic FC to respond and retake the lead, however, as Bijev stepped up to take a free kick he had won 25 yards from goal in a central position and fired a curled shot over the wall and into the top-left corner of the net.
Werner almost had a third for the visitors in the 16th minute as he ran onto a through-ball by Drew Skundrich that opened up a low shot from the left side of the penalty area that Quakes goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell did well to get down and save before Werner’s shot picked out the bottom-right corner of the net. Tarbell also had to produce a good save from Bijev just past the half-hour mark as the winger cut in from the left after a half-cleared corner and fired a shot to the far post from 14 yards that was parried away.
Those saves proved key as San Jose leveled before the halftime break after Tommy Thompson was brought down in the area for a penalty kick. Cristian Espinoza stepped up and roofed his finish past Republic FC goalkeeper Josh Cohen in the 38th minute. Eriksson then went close a few minutes later with an effort that went just high and wide of the left corner of the net as Thompson began to assert himself down the Quakes’ right side.
San Jose picked up where it left off to start the second half as defender Florian Jungwirth volleyed just wide after a corner from the right had been flicked on at the near post, while Siad Haji had a shot parried by Cohen and then headed over the crossbar by Charalampos Chantzopoulos. Republic FC also threatened in the 56th minute but Skundrich was unable to direct his header on goal after a whipped cross from the left by Werner.
Thompson forced a fine save by Cohen in the 62nd minute with a powerful strike from 25 yards that was pegged for the top-right corner, while Vako fizzed a shot just wide of the near post from the right side of the penalty area a few minutes later as the pressure from the hosts increased, but that pressure finally told with 12 minutes to go. A corner kick from the right was headed off the crossbar by Chris Wondolowski, but the rebound came to Vako just outside the penalty area, and his shot took a deflection off Republic FC defender Jordan McCrary and flew into the top-right corner, leaving Cohen with no chance to react.
Sacramento looked to pull itself back on level terms, and with six minutes to go Bijev fired a shot just wide of the left post. Cameron Iwasa also had a late chance saved by Tarbell as he created space at the top of the penalty area, while Cohen made a big save in the 90th minute to keep Vako from finishing, but moments later the Georgian international struck his second of the night to put the hosts ahead by a pair of goals.
Skundrich gave Sacramento one last glimmer of hope as he immediately scored his side’s third of the night in response, but there was no late magic for the visitors as Republic FC’s goal of reaching the Round of 16 for a third consecutive season came up just short.