Republic FC wallops Sounders 2 in battle for first place

Republic FC snapped its two match USL funk in a big way Saturday night against the Seattle Sounders 2 at Bonney Field.

In a battle for the top spot in the Western Conference, Republic FC (5-4-0. 15 points) defeated Seattle 3-0 in front of an announced sellout crowd of 11,242.

It was a dominating performance by the USL defending champions against a Seattle (4-3-1, 13 points) team that handed them a 4-2 loss in the USL opener March 21 in Washington.

It was Sacramento’s first win in three games after losing 2-1 to the Orange County Blues April 24, then falling 1-0 to the Real Monarchs in Salt Lake City five days later.

Nemanja Vukovic, Rodrigo Lopez and Adnan Gabeljic scored the goals ‑ Lopez and Max Alvarez had assists – but Republic FC could have easily had several more goals.

“The most important thing is we got back on the winning side,” Republic FC coach Preki said. “We’ve got to find a way to build on this away from home…As you can see, when we come to play, we’re a pretty good team.”

The win was perhaps even more impressive than their 3-0 home win over the Portland Timbers 2 on April 18.

“A great win that we really needed,” Lopez said. “But we can’t just play well against these type of teams. We’ve got to punish every team, and not just at home.

“Last week (against Real Monarchs) we had a horrible game, probably the worst game we’ve had in Sacramento history. To bounce back from that to this just shows a lot of character by the guys.”

Sacramento out-shot Seattle 17-12 in what was a physical and chippy contest that kept referee Victor Rivas busy reaching into his pocket. The two teams combined for six yellow cards, and Seattle had to play a man down when midfielder Giuliano Frano got his second yellow card and was ejected in the 65th minute.

Frano picked up his first yellow during a heated shoving match in the 26th minute involving the two teams. The skirmish started when defender Mickey Daly was called for a foul and received a yellow card after he pushed Seattle forward Andy Craven just outside the box.

Both Republic FC goalkeeper Patrick McLain and Seattle goalkeeper Charlie Lyon, a loan player from Seattle’s Major League Soccer team, had strong games.

McLain made a diving save on a curling shot by Darwin Jones in the 50th minute, then made another diving save two minutes later. He finished with four saves.

“Patrick did his job and we did our job on the field,” Lopez said.

Lopez orchestrated Republic FC’s potent offense in scoring his sixth goal and getting his third assist of the season.

His free kick in the 19thminute was on target to Nemanja Vukovic. The 6-foot-3 defender headed the cross past Lyon from six yards out. Lopez scored in the 63nd minute when he sent a give-and-go ball to Alvarez who one-touched it back to Lopez in the left side of the box. Lopez left-footed the ball past Lyon into the right side of the net.

Sacramento will next play on May 17 at the Los Angeles Galaxy II.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee