Sacramento Republic F.C. faced off against the Oklahoma City Energy F.C. Thursday night in front of a sell out crowd. Both teams were playing this game full bore because of the postseason implications that were involved. The Republic needs one more victory to secure the two spot in the playoff tournament whilst the Energy needs a win tonight and one on the road against the Orange County Blues of they want even a chance of sneaking into the postseason. It was a mild evening at Bonney Field as both teams took to the pitch.
The first half opened as expected with the Oklahoma City Energy coming out of the gate trying to take the game to the Republic. Both clubs played very aggressively on the pitch as if it was the championship game of the USL Pro League. The Energy dominated the opening minutes before the Republic settled down and began to take control. Despite several scoring opportunities and occupying the Oklahoma City’s side of the pitch, Sacramento couldn’t punch it in.
In the middle of the first, The Energy continued their aggressive play and where awarded with a yellow card for their constant fouling. Whenever Sacramento pushed into their territory, the Energy countered back with a flash drive of their own and nearly scored twice but the quick hands of goalie Jake Gleeson kept the game scoreless. Likewise for the Oklahoma City who’s goalie Ray Clark made several amazing saves and deflections to keep the Republic from putting a score on the board. As the game’s final seconds ticked away, both teams left to the locker rooms with the scored tied 0-0 at the half.
Sacramento opens up the second half by playing aggressive and taking the game to Oklahoma City in the first couple of minutes by occupying their side of the pitch and maneuvering around the goalie box. Their perseverance would pay off when Rodrigo Lopez would score in the 49th minute off of a penalty kick to make it a 1-0 game for the Republic. The score seemed to wake up the Energy as they started to play “inspired football” as they began to attack Sacramento and march up and down the pitch successfully counterattacking and stopping the Republic in their tracks.
As the game progressed into the middle of the second half, both teams continued to wage a war of attrition with one another as to see who will be the first to give in. Sacramento continues to search for a way to score another goal whilst Oklahoma City wants to get an equalizer to even up the game. The Republic continues to attack the Energy’s goal but Ray Clark has been up to the task of keeping Sacramento from scoring a second goal. Oklahoma City hasn’t given up the ghost and continue to tough it out on the pitch against the stronger and faster Republic.
The Republic nearly scores in the 74th minute but the shot goes wide left as time ticks off the clock. Oklahoma City has shifted into desperation mode as a loss or tie can end their season tonight. They continue to push strongly down pitch as they try to set up a goal but Sacramento finds a seem in their defense and nearly score again in the 77th minute with another wide miss. The Energy goes into a five-three-two formation in an attempt to create another offensive attack but is easily shutdown by Sacramento.
Sacramento misses a shot attempt in the extra time as they continue to try and knock the Energy out of the game for good. Another shot attempt was missed by the Republic in the second extra minute when Energy’s goalie Ray Clark left the box to make a sliding block. This seemed to reinvigorate Oklahoma City as they made a last minute attack in the third extra minute but Jake Gleeson made a clutch save as time expired giving Sacramento a 1-0 victory over the Energy. With the win, the Republic now owns the second seed in the 2014 USL Pro postseason playoffs whilst Oklahoma City is eliminated from the tournament.
For more information about the USL Pro League playoffs please visit http://uslpro.uslsoccer.com/ and to learn more about the Sacramento Republic's postseason please check out their website for all the details.