Sacramento Republic FC forward Cameron Iwasa battles for possession against OKC Energy FC. | Photo courtesy Steven Christy / OKC Energy FC
1. A point was enough for Sacramento Republic FC as the side clinched a playoff berth for the fifth consecutive season with a 0-0 draw against OKC Energy FC on Sunday night at Taft Stadium. The visitors weren’t as sharp as they were in their 4-1 mid-week victory over Tulsa Roughnecks FC, but they did just enough to become the fifth Western Conference side to secure a spot in the 2018 USL Cup Playoffs. Sacramento did, however, miss out on an opportunity to leapfrog Real Monarchs SLC into third place in the West but the club can still attain that position with the right results in its final four matches as it holds a game in hand over Real and trails the struggling Monarchs by just a point in the standings.
2. OKC Energy FC couldn’t get the three points that it so desperately needed in its final home match of the season as it struggled to break down a stubborn Sacramento defense. With only a point, Energy FC now sits seven points outside of eighth place in the Western Conference with just three games remaining and will need nothing short of a miracle to qualify for the 2018 USL Cup Playoffs. Energy FC will have to go on the road and take victory in each of its three remaining matches and have Reno 1868 FC fail to pick up three points from its five remaining games.
3. Sacramento kept a clean sheet for the second time in three games as goalkeeper Josh Cohen continues to have a steadying presence in his first season with the side. Cohen, who has played every minute for Republic FC this season, came up with a crucial save to deny Marco Bustos in the 67th minute as he managed to stop his momentum and keep out the midfielder’s first-time effort from 12 yards out. Cohen picked up his 10th shutout of the season and now ranks in the top five among USL goalkeepers in both clean sheets and saves made.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Sacramento Republic FC clinched a spot in the 2018 USL Cup Playoffs despite playing to a 0-0 draw with OKC Energy FC on Sunday night at Taft Stadium. The two sides struggled to break each other down in the early going as neither team registered a shot on target until the 21st minute when Sacramento midfielder Hayden Partain tried his luck with a left-footed drive from 25 yards out, but Energy FC goalkeeper Cody Laurendi was able to get his body behind it to keep it out. The hosts probably should have taken the lead 12 minutes before halftime as Marco Bustos burst through the Republic FC defense and played a neat ball to Jose Barril in the center of the box, but the midfielder failed to test Sacramento goalkeeper Josh Cohen and skied his effort over the crossbar from just left of the penalty spot. Philip Rasmussen continued to apply pressure for Energy FC four minutes after the break, but his goal-bound volley took a deflection off a defender and bounced behind to safety. Sacramento’s Shannon Gomez was given space to carry the ball forward and shoot six minutes later, but the right back produced a defender’s finish from nearly 30 yards as he fired well over the crossbar. Cohen kept the game scoreless in the 67th minute with a potential USL Save of the Week contender as he reacted quickly to get down to his right and parry Bustos’ first-time shot from the penalty spot. Energy FC worried Cohen again ten minutes later as Adam Jahn fizzed an effort from distance just wide of the left post. Both sides had a chance to snatch the three points in stoppage time as Deshorn Brown fired an effort directly at Cohen from the center of box just seconds before Sacramento countered and Iwasa struck the near post for the visitors, but the teams were left to rue their missed opportunities as they settled for a goalless draw.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:
Josh Cohen, Sacramento Republic FC – Cohen made a fantastic reaction save to deny Marco Bustos in the 67th minute and ensured his 10th clean sheet of the season in stoppage time by stopping Deshorn Brown from close range.