A week after Major League Soccer struck a blow to Sacramento's expansion hopes, Republic FC hit back on the field, scoring the second win over an MLS team in the USL franchise's history.
Republic FC edged Seattle Sounders FC 2-1 in extra time Wednesday night at Papa Murphy's Park to advance to the Round of 16 in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup for the second consecutive season. Their tournament run continues June 20 against the newest club in MLS, Los Angeles FC, at Banc of California Stadium.
Republic FC’s first MLS win came last year in the U.S. Open Cup against Real Salt Lake in a 4-1 blowout.
Sacramento's win over Seattle – which was coming off of back-to-back MLS Cup appearances but diminished by injuries – was spearheaded by goals from forward Cameron Iwasa in the 60th minute and midfielder Jure Matjasic 55 minutes later.
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Republic FC coach Simon Elliott said he was pleased with his players’ conditioning and their ability to respond after a goal by Sounders midfielder Harry Shipp tied it in stoppage time.
“I think we came out aggressively and I think we controlled the game for large periods of time,” Elliott said. “I think we need to be a little more clinical in front of goal because any time you only score one there’s always a chance that a good team can pinch one and … we kept trying to find the winner and we did.”
Republic FC is one of three USL clubs remaining in the tournament, compared to 13 MLS teams.
Earlier in U.S. Open Cup play, Republic FC defeated San Francisco City FC of the Premier Development League, 3-1, and Reno 1868 FC of the USL, 1-0.
Republic FC last faced Los Angeles FC in a 1-0 friendly loss at home on Feb. 25. Los Angeles FC (6-4-3) is in fourth place of the MLS Western Conference standings in its first season as an expansion team.
Sacramento's bid to join the MLS in this round of expansion fell short when Cincinnati was awarded a team on May 29 after Nashville was picked in December.
Los Angeles FC, which is led by two-time MLS Coach of the Year and former U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley, is coming off a 2-0 win over Fresno FC to qualify for a spot in the Round of 16. The club also features standouts Carlos Vela, who was named to Mexico’s World Cup roster on Monday, and Diego Rossi at forward.
“We’re excited to get through the next round,” Elliott said. “We know that LAFC is a good team and they’ve been doing very well in MLS.”
A win over Los Angeles FC would bring Sacramento, which lost in the Round of 16 to LA Galaxy 2-0 last year, to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup on July 18 for the first time in franchise history. They would face the winner of the Portland Timbers-Galaxy match.
Before resuming U.S. Open Cup play, Republic FC (7-3-3) has three USL matches, starting with Phoenix Rising FC on Saturday at Papa Murphy's Park.