It had been, in the words of coach Paul Buckle, “an age” since Republic FC scored a goal. The scoreless streak had reached six games going into Wednesday’s second-round Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup matchup against FC Anahuac, spanning 563 minutes of play.
It ended in the 12th minute Wednesday night, as forward Harry Williams redirected a cross from midfielder Elliot Hord into the goal. Three minutes later the duo connected again, with Williams scoring on a header off Hord’s right-footed cross.
That welcome burst propelled Republic FC to a 4-0 victory over the FC Anahuac of the United Premier Soccer League at Papa Murphy’s Park, as it advanced to the third round of the U.S. Open Cup.
“We’ve been creating chances; it’s just been putting the ball in the back of the net,” said Williams. “Obviously we got the early one and we ended up with four tonight. … We’ve just got to keep at it.”
Republic FC added goals from Wilson Kneeshaw on a penalty kick in the 66th minute and Daniel Trickett-Smith in the 85th minute. It will host its third-round match May 31 versus Reno 1868 FC, which defeated OSA FC on Wednesday night in penalty kicks.
Republic FC had been winless in its previous six matches in USL play, and Buckle said even facing an amateur team in early-round Open Cup play “could have been a banana skin.”
“I think all night we actually got better and you could see the confidence levels getting better,” Buckle said. “There were times in games when we didn’t look confident. But we kept going and got four goals for our troubles. It would have been more, other than the keeper getting saves, but at least we hit the target.”
Williams had multiple chances to become the third Republic FC player with a hat trick in Open Cup play but settled for a two-goal night before being replaced by Kneeshaw in the 60th minute. Kneeshaw, on his 24th birthday, was tripped up in the box in the 64th minute and threaded his penalty kick inside the left post past goalkeeper Angel Octavio Alvarez.
Trickett-Smith’s goal was set up by an aggressive run up the left side by forward Trevin Caesar, who had a shot deflected in the box. The ball popped up in the air to Kneeshaw, who lined it inside the near post.
Republic FC controlled the ball for much of the match. Buckle said he learned from last year’s Open Cup, when Republic FC was eliminated in the third round for the first time by the Kitsap Pumas of the Premier Development League.
“It was my fault last year that we were eliminated because I chose to rest some of the first-team players that were active every week and it backfired,” Buckle said.
“I said this time around I wouldn’t do that. If we’re going to be beaten, you pay full respect now to the opposition. And I think tonight we did.”
Republic FC will be back in action Saturday in USL play against Tulsa Roughnecks FC at 7:30 p.m. at Papa Murphy’s Park. It enters the match 0-5-1 in its last six USL matches since winning its first three of the season.