Photo courtesy Charis Wilson / Seattle Sounders FC 2
TUKWILA, Wash. – Sacramento Republic FC, coming off a first-place finish in the Western Conference standings a year ago, was in danger of dropping its road opener Sunday. Republic FC’s offense eventually awoke as newcomer Sammy Ochoa tallied an equalizer and then assisted Emrah Klimenta’s 83rd-minute winner to post a 2-1 victory against Seattle Sounders FC 2 at Starfire Stadium. Sacramento overcame a fifth-minute goal from S2’s Brian Nana-Sinkam. With the win, Republic FC has now won six straight against Seattle, holding a 6-1-0 series lead.
5’ – SEA – Brian Nana-Sinkam (Irvin Parra)
65’ – SAC – Sammy Ochoa (James Kiffe)
83’ – SAC – Emrah Klimenta (Sammy Ochoa)
Three Things That Mattered:
1. Sacramento, despite the early deficit, was the instigator offensively for almost the entirety of Sunday’s match. It wound up being Sammy Ochoa who finally provided the breakthrough. James Kiffe had the initial shot from atop the 18-yard box and Ochoa redirected it past S2 goalkeeper Bryan Meredith for the equalizer in the 65th minute. Ochoa would later drop the ball off to Emrah Klimenta in the 83rd minute, and he fired inside the left post for the winner. Ochoa will certainly be a major focal point moving forward after making the move from Tulsa Roughnecks FC. One element that hasn’t changed for him is his success at Starfire Stadium, now tallying four goals in three games at the complex over the past three seasons.
2. The opening minutes of Sunday’s game was all Seattle as the young and energetic roster challenged Sacramento’s defense early by gaining a couple of set-piece chances. In the fifth minute, Irvin Parra delivered a free kick to Brian Nana-Sinkam who found a gap in Sacramento’s back line and punched home the shot for a 1-0 advantage. To demonstrate just how different this year’s S2 roster is compared to last year’s, Parra is the veteran of this group with six appearances and 459 minutes of action during the 2016 season.
3. Seattle was without question an unknown USL side in the weeks – and days – leading up to Sunday’s regular-season opener. Ezra Hendrickson’s roster was finally in place last this past week. One person who certainly stood out for S2 was Hawaii native and former Sounders Academy player Shandon Hopeau. Hopeau had a taste of the USL last season with a couple matches in Seattle. Heading into this 2017 season, Hopeau’s midfield presence from the right side was solid blend to take note of. Whether it was aggressive play early to earn a corner, create some space for his own shot or the hustle in midfield to keep the ball in play for a counter, Hopeau could showcased a number of intangibles. He could prove to be a key cog for Ezra Hendrickson’s side as the youngsters continue to mesh in the early going.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:
Sammy Ochoa, Sacramento Republic FC – With the equalizer and an assist on Emrah Klimenta’s winner, the newcomer Ochoa stepped up in his Republic FC debut.
Seattle Sounders FC 2 vs. Portland Timbers 2 – April 2, 5 p.m. ET, Starfire Sports Complex
Sacramento Republic FC vs. Orange County SC – April 1, 10:30 p.m. ET, Papa Murphy’s Park