Sacramento Republic Qualify for Open Cup Final downing SKC in penalties

Sacramento Republic Open Cup

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sacramento Republic FC hosted Sporting KC on Wednesday night in their biggest game in club history. It was the semifinals of the 2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, and their third game against an MLS side in the competition.

Sacramento Republic Clinch Open Cup Final Downing SKC in Penalties

The first half was back and forth, with a frenetic opening 15 minutes. Khiry Shelton and Damià Viader had looks from good angles in the opening minutes. Republic’s press led to turnovers and opportunities in transition, but their decision making in the final third was not good enough. SKC’s defense were calm under pressure. They had fewer moments going forward in the opening 45, but were more efficient with them.

The craziest moment of the first half came in the 40th minute. Rodrigo López missed on a volley from Keko Gontán leading to a scramble in the air for the ball right in front of goal. Rémi Walter ultimately won the foul. A minute later, Dániel Sallói had the best chance of the half for the visitors with an open shot from outside the box. Danny Vitiello made a great save.

Sporting started the second half much better, pinning Sacramento in their final third and getting the ball into good areas. They were unable to find the back of the net with Erik Thommy having the best look in the 54th minute, shooting just wide.

John Pulskamp made the save of the night an hour in. Great combination play through Jack Gurr saw Republic open things up, eventually getting the ball to Keko Gontán open in the middle of the box. Pulskamp made the save with his right hand. Substitute Felipe Hernandez nearly scored a banger in the final minutes of regular time but it was saved over the bar. The match headed to extra time.

Extra time was all Kansas City. Sallói hit the crossbar with the rebound nearly going in for an own goal. Johnny Russell had a breakaway that he shot right at the goalkeeper. There were shouts for a handball in the box early in the second half on Lee Desmond but referee Alan Chapman waved it off. Russell had another chance in the final minutes but was denied by Vitiello. Republic had two chances off a long throw at the death but could not convert.

Penalties were a game on their own. William Agada took a poor shot that was saved but Vitiello came off his line. The substitute converted on the retake. Maalique Foster converted a filthy panenka in the bottom of the fourth round to make it 4-4. In the top of the fifth, Graham Zusi was saved, the first of penalties. To win the game, Rodrigo López converted. Sacramento Republic advanced 5-4 on penalties.

Three Takeaways:

Production quality on and off the field: The camera work was poor with the wide shot too zoomed in at times. The talent ESPN put on this game were great but still had a lesser production experience for many. Alan Chapman, a veteran MLS referee was disliked by both teams and fanbases with inconsistent foul calls throughout the game.

Season over for SKC? Their MLS season has been terrible. They’re at the bottom of the conference and unlikely to make the playoffs. They were all in on Open Cup, a competition they have history in. They were the better team through 90 and 120 minutes. They couldn’t score. Where do they go now other than trying in vein to make the playoffs?

Indomitable: Sac Republic worked their butts off and defended for their lives. The sellout crowd were behind them the entire night. This is the greatest feat in club history. They will play at Orlando City on September 7.
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