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Early Goals Help Sacramento Past Phoenix

By CHRIS HOCKMAN - chris.hockman@uslsoccer.com, 05/20/18, 12:30AM EDT

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Republic FC ruins Drogba’s 500th game party before crowd of 6,503 fans


Photo courtesy Michael Rincon / Phoenix Rising FC

PHOENIX – A strong first-half performance proved enough for Sacramento Republic FC as it took a 3-1 win over Phoenix Rising FC before a sellout crowd of 6,503 fans at the Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex on Saturday night. After the hosts had done well in the opening stages it was Sacramento who scored the opening goal as Cameron Iwasa was able to beat Phoenix midfielder James Musa to the ball from Carlos Rodriguez and poke it past the goalkeeper. As Phoenix pushed forward looking for an equalizer Republic FC stole possession and executed a perfect counterattack to double its lead. The ball was spread wide for Jure Matjasic, who held the ball just long enough to draw the defense, allowing him to then cut the ball back for Villyan Bijev, who was able to side-foot the ball into the back of the net. In his 500th professional league appearance Didier Drogba had a golden opportunity to pull his side back into the match with a penalty kick but his effort was too central, allowing former Rising FC teammate Josh Cohen to make the save. Phoenix had the ball in the back of the net following the scrum after the penalty save but the goal was canceled out for a foul on Cohen, keeping Sacramento ahead by two goals at halftime. Phoenix appeared determined to come back in the second half, and went to the bench early bringing on forward Chris Cortez. That would prove to be a shrewd move from Rising FC Head Coach Patrice Carteron as Cortez pulled a goal back in the 62nd minute when he put away a perfect cut-back from Solomon Asante. The second half was all Phoenix as the hosts continually peppered Cohen’s goal with shots but the Republic FC defense held on. With a goal deficit the hosts threw numbers forward and in the 88th minute Sacramento took advantage to wrap up the win with swift counter attack, as Bijev quickly released Wilson Kneeshaw, who ran through one-on-one with the keeper placing it perfectly out of his reach to seal the win.

Scoring
8’ – SAC – Cameron Iwasa (Carlos Rodriguez)
21’ – SAC – Villyan Bijev (Jure Matjasic)
62’ – PHX – Chris Cortez (Solomon Asante)
88’ – SAC – Wilson Kneeshaw (Villyan Bijev)

Three Things That Matter:

  • 1. It is unusual that a team would do better on the road than at home, but that is exactly how things are for Phoenix Rising FC, which suffered its third home loss in this match. By contrast on the road, Rising FC is undefeated with a 4-0-1 record, which will lead to confidence ahead of next week’s away match against the Swope Park Rangers.

  • 2. For the third consecutive outing Sacramento managed two-or-more goals in the match. With plenty of firepower clearly on the table for the Californians there is a knowledge they can go anywhere and score, and after a frustrating home loss last week Republic FC responded, scoring multiple goals again and holding on.

  • 3. After failing to hold on to a two-goal lead last week against Reno 1868 FC there was plenty of anxiousness on the Sacramento bench when Cortez scored the Phoenix goal. But this time the defense stood firm with goalkeeper Josh Cohen especially starring to stop a Phoenix attack which had 25 shots in the match. That defense will need to be at its best again next week when it takes on the top side in the USL Western Conference, Real Monarchs SLC.

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:

Josh Cohen, Sacramento Republic FC – Phoenix continually peppered the Sacramento goal with chances but Cohen was up to the task, saving a Didier Drogba penalty as part of a seven-save performance.

Upcoming Games:
Phoenix Rising FC
vs. Swope Park Rangers – May 26, 3p.m. ET, Children’s Mercy Park
Sacramento Republic FC vs. Real Monarchs SLC – May 29, 9p.m. ET, Zions Bank Stadium

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