A melee that led to a player ejection proved costly Saturday as Republic FC fell 2-0 to host Oklahoma City Energy FC in a USL Pro match, snapping Sacramento’s five-match league unbeaten streak.
With the score 0-0, Republic FC midfielder Ivan Mirkovic was ejected with a red card in the 31st minute after pushing and shoving broke out when teammate Nemanja Vukovic tried to score in front of the goal.
As Vukovic attempted to shoot the ball in the middle of a pack of players in the 6-yard box, an Oklahoma City defender fell in front of Vukovic as he tried to strike the ball at least once more.
After goalie Jon Kempin emerged from the scrum with the ball, Vukovic got knocked to the ground as players from both teams started grabbing and shoving each other.
The play started from a Rodrigo Lopez free kick from outside the right box that was redirected Vukovic’s way by two teammates.
Mirkovic, who appeared to shove an Energy FC player while separating a teammate from the action, was the only player carded after order was restored.
It was Mirkovic’s second red card in as many matches he has played. He was ejected from Republic FC’s 6-0 win over the Fresno Fuego in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on May 28, forcing him to sit out Wednesday’s 2-1 Open Cup loss to the Earthquakes.
Oklahoma City (4-7-2) took a 1-0 lead in the 36th minute on Adda Djeziri’s goal from a Christian Duke assist. Energy FC put the match out of reach in the 81st minute when Steven Perry’s cross found Michael Thomas open on the back post.
Republic FC (6-4-2) missed on several close goal-scoring opportunities and dominated possession for much of the match, which was played in winds that reached 35 mph. Four yellow cards also were issued to Republic FC players.
Three of Republic FC’s four league losses came when it played a man down because of an ejection. All four defeats have come against teams with losing records in league play.
– Bill Paterson