Harry Williams and Mike da Fonte scored goals and Republic FC extended its unbeaten streak to nine matches in a 2-1 win over the Seattle Sounders 2 Saturday night in front of an announced sellout crowd of 11,569 at Bonney Field.
It also gave Republic FC (8-3-4, 28 points) a sweep of the three-game series with the Sounders 2 (3-9-4, 13 pts.). The win moved Sacramento into third place in the Western Conference.
Da Fonte, a defender, scored the game-winner on a header in the box in the 78th minute from a Danny Barrera free kick, eight minutes after Seattle had tied the match on Zach Mathers’ goal. That ended a 431-minute scoreless streak against Sacramento dating back to last season.
“It was nice because (Barrera) put the ball on the back post, I got off my man and I put it back across the goalie,” da Fonte said of his first goal for Republic FC. “And seeing it hit the back of the net was nice because that guy (Seattle goalkeeper Charlie Lyon) was saving everything tonight.”
Williams put Republic FC ahead 1-0 in the fifth minute when he scored inside the box on a short pass from San Jose Earthquakes loan player Adam Jahn after Seattle defender Nouhou Tolo failed in an attempt to clear the ball.
It appeared at that point that Sacramento was headed for an easy night.
But Lyon played magnificently to keep the struggling Sounders 2 in the match. He faced 21 shots and had seven saves, including five in the first half.
“It is very difficult not to get frustrated,” said Republic FC coach Paul Buckle. “Our number of chances is going up, they’re not going down. So when I cool down, I’ll have to be happy with the amount of chances. We were very functional again, very, very good at changing systems. We played with a 4-1-3-2. I thought we’ve done really well with the ball. We created numerous chances that need to be put away. They need to be put in the back of the net to give us the breathing space to go on.”
Lyon had a number of brilliant stops, including two in quick succession just before the half on attempts by Tommy Thompson, also playing on loan from San Jose.
Lyon flicked away Thompson’s upper corner blast in the 45th minute, then moments later corralled Thompson’s diving header.
Thompson had both goals in Republic FC’s 2-0 win over Seattle on May 14, at Bonney, earning USL Player of the Week honors.
Jahn also was dangerous throughout, and his powerful header missed inches wide of the net early in the second half.
“Sooner or later we’re going to give somebody a real lesson in terms of putting the ball in the net because it can’t continue like this,” Buckle said. “The chances were there, but then we find ourselves keeping them in the game. No disrespect to them but we’re all over them, a dominant performance. ... We’ve got to be ruthless.”
Seattle had a couple one-on-one first-half attempts with Republic FC goalkeeper Dominik Jakubek but Michael Farfan and Andy Craven missed wide.
Sacramento had a key loss early in the match. Stalwart defender Emrah Klimenta suffered a left knee injury in the eighth minute trying to avoid a collision with Seattle’s Tolo and had to leave the match.
“Emrah’s not a player that will stay down,” Buckle said. “It was an awkward fall. We tried to give him a few minutes to recover, which put us under a little pressure in that five minutes. But it wasn’t to be. It’s a worry that he’s going to have a little bit of time on the sideline.”
Thompson replaced Klimenta but midfielder Octavio Guzman dropped back into Klimenta’s right fullback spot.
“I thought Tavo did excellent at right back,” Buckle said. “We patched up tactically. All night we were making moves tactically to sort of fool them to see the game out.”
The relentless Cameron Iwasa seemed to be all over the field as Buckle used him as an attacker up top, in the midfield and late in a more defensive role.
“Everybody’s played the part,” Buckle said. “The spirit is high in the team. ... There were some great performances out there. I would pay money to see these guys play.”
Republic FC will play the Real Monarchs SLC on Wednesday at Bonney Field before embarking on a five-game road trip throughout the remainder of July.