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The 5 games that placed Sacramento Republic FC’s Heart Health Park in Open Cup lore

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 07/08/24, 4:05PM EDT


Republic FC has been no stranger to Cupsets against higher-tier opponents on home turf in its history

Sacramento Republic FC's Rodrigo Lopez and Danny Vitiello celebrate the side's Semifinal victory in the 2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at Heart Health Park. | Photo courtesy Sacramento Republic FC

For the second time in the past three editions, Sacramento Republic FC has advanced to the Quarterfinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and on Tuesday night will welcome Seattle Sounders FC to Heart Health Park as it looks to continue another remarkable run in the historic tournament.

Ahead of that contest, here’s our ranking of five games that have placed Heart Health Park among the legendary venues in the tournament’s modern era and one of the most challenging for opponents to emerge from victorious.

5. Sacramento Republic FC 4, Real Salt Lake 1
Fourth Round | June 14, 2017

The draw had sent Republic FC on the road for its first two encounters with MLS opponents in the Open Cup – including a heartbreaking penalty shootout defeat in San Jose in 2015. When the Indomitable Club got its first chance to host a top-flight opponent, it made the most of it.

Three first-half goals, including two in three minutes by Agustin Cazarez and Jeremy Hall right before the break to restore the side’s lead, set up a comfortable victory for Sacramento as Danny Barrera ended the night with a goal and two assists. It started the legend of Heart Health Park as a venue opposing sides didn’t want to visit in the Open Cup.

4. Sacramento Republic FC 2, Seattle Sounders FC 1, AET
Fourth Round | June 6, 2018

Truth be told, Republic FC had probably done enough to eliminate the four-time Open Cup title winner in regulation. Cameron Iwasa’s toe-poke finish on the hour-mark had given the hosts the lead in a game in which they had a majority of the chances. But, in second-half stoppage time, Seattle delivered a gut-punch. A long-range shot by Harry Shipp took a deflection inside the penalty area, wrongfooting Josh Cohen in the Sacramento goal, and sent the game to extra time.

Republic FC didn’t buckle. It allowed only one shot in extra time, and with five minutes to go Jure Matjasic was in the right place to knock home the rebound of a shot by Iwasa to secure advancement.

3. Sacramento Republic FC 2, San Jose Earthquakes 0
Round of 16 | May 25, 2022

In three prior encounters with the NorCal neighbors, Republic FC had made flying starts, only to see things disintegrate and the epic battles go the way of the Quakes on their home turf at PayPal Park. As the Open Cup returned in 2022 – and the rivalry switched to Heart Health Park for the first time – Republic FC finally held its own.

The hosts opened the scoring in the 28th minute as Luis Felipe Fernandes powered home a header off a corner kick by Rodrigo Lopez against his former club that San Jose goalkeeper Matt Bersano was unable to keep out. Then with seven minutes to go, club legend Lopez doubled the lead with a blistering shot to the top-left corner that brought the house down, and the banner of the travelling support from the Quakes left ragged and alone. 

2. Sacramento Republic FC 4, San Jose Earthquakes 3, AET
Round of 16 | May 21, 2024

Sacramento’s victory in 2022 set the stage for the rematch earlier this season, which delivered everything great about the Open Cup. Determined to reverse the result of their last visit to Heart Health Park, the Quakes grabbed the opening goal through Preston Judd after just 11 minutes, only for Kieran Phillips to turn the game in Sacramento’s favor with an equalizer six minutes later and a go-ahead goal seven minutes before halftime.

While San Jose had more possession in the second half, it was held at bay by Republic FC’s back line, creating half-chances and little more. With 10 minutes to go, however, Argentine playmaker Cristian Espinoza produced a spectacular free kick to level the game and give new life to the Quakes. The visitors carried momentum into extra time where they dominated the opening period and regained the lead through Hernán López in the 100th minute.

Having seen San Jose’s substitutes come through in its comeback, Republic FC introduced an Argentine playmaker of its own and it turned the tide of the game. Within a minute of coming on at halftime of extra time, Cristian Parano had helped set up Luis Felipe Fernandes for an equalizer and a minute later provided the low cross for Sebastian Herrera to tuck home. This time, Sacramento’s lead held, creating another epic chapter in the rivalry.

1. Sacramento Republic FC 0 (5), Sporting Kansas City 0 (4)
Semifinals | July 27, 2022

Republic FC’s run to the Semifinals of the 2022 Open Cup had captured the imagination of fans across the country. The Indomitable Club then delivered a performance against four-time champion Sporting Kansas City that lived up to the hype, and then some.

After a tense 90 minutes in which both sides had chances to break the deadlock, Sacramento’s back line and goalkeeper Danny Vitiello held on in extra time as SKC applied pressure to force a penalty shootout. Shooting second, Republic FC’s players held their nerve – including a remarkable Panenka in the fourth round by Maalique Foster to keep the sides level – before Vitiello came through with a diving stop on former United States international Graham Zusi. Sacramento legend Rodrigo Lopez stepped up for his shot to win and buried it, sending the squad and the sellout crowd into wild celebrations as Republic FC became the first lower-division side to reach the Open Cup Final in more than a decade.

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