Cameron Iwasa scored in the 76th minute to rally Republic FC to a 1-1 draw with the Swope Park Rangers in a USL match Saturday night in front of an announced sellout crowd of 11,569 at Bonney Field.
It was Republic FC’s 35th consecutive USL regular-season and postseason sellout streak and Sacramento extended its unbeaten streak to six consecutive games.
Republic FC (4-3-2, 14 points) took 15 shots, six on goal, but it was the first time in six matches that Sacramento failed to score at least two goals.
“For us it’s definitely a disappointment,” Iwasa said. “Overall, coming back and getting the draw, getting the point, that’s a positive. But when we play here we expect to win every game.”
Swope Park (3-4-2, 11 points) took the lead in the 73rd minute on Kevin Oliveira’s 30-yard blast, ending Republic FC’s bid for a sixth USL shutout.
Republic FC goalkeeper Dominik Jakubek made an unsuccessful diving attempt on the ball.
“Dominik apologized after in Dom’s style,” Republic FC coach Paul Buckle said. “He’s the most honest player I’ve ever worked with. He probably would expect to save it. It was a nice strike from the boy.”
Three minutes later, Republic FC was finally able to break through Swope Park’s defense after several earlier close calls.
Danny Barrera put a ball to Harry Williams, who laid it off to Tommy Stewart near the goal. Stewart one-touched the ball to Iwasa, who was coming from the left side. Iwasa buried his 14-yard blast past Swope Park goalkeeper Zac Lubin.
“It was some good ball movement,” Iwasa said “Tommy played an unselfish ball to me and I pretty much had an open net.”
Lubin made a big save in the 86th minute by knocking away Barrera’s bending 25-yard blast. Four minutes into stoppage time, Stewart’s shot in the box went just wide.
“We had plenty of opportunities,” Iwasa said. “Pretty unlucky of some of them not to go. Danny had that strike from the top of the box and the keeper made an unbelievable save, so tip your hat to him on that. Sometimes you just don’t get that final touch, that final bounce.”
Williams was particularly dangerous in the first half, twice finding space behind the defense. Defender Tommy Meyer, playing catch-up, shouldered Williams in the box at the last second and Williams’ shot went wide. Ten minutes later, Williams dribbled through several defenders, but his shot was deflected.
Republic FC overcame a scare in the 71st minute when Jakubek scrambled back into the goal to stop a point-blank blast by Daniel Salloi.
“Normally it would feel like two points lost but I actually feel like it’s a point gained,” Buckle said. “We found it hard to create open chances tonight … so with such little time left on the clock, I was pretty pleased with the reaction.
“It took a goal for us to really get a tempo that I would want. The players showed great character to come back. We expect to win every game we play. We know we’re not going to every match, so if you’re not having a great night, you don’t lose.”
Defensive midfielder JJ Koval sat out the match with a groin injury. The absence of defender Emrah Klimenta, who is with the Montenegro national team, ended his streak of 18 USL starts.
But Buckle was pleased with how Joaquin Rivas played at right back in Klimenta’s spot for the third consecutive match.
“I think Rivas did incredibly well,” Buckle said. “For somebody who has not played, he has come in and done a great job for us. … He’s done us proud.”
Republic FC will play on Wednesday at Bonney Field against the Kitsap Pumas of Washington in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup.