Soccer

Why two leads weren't enough to keep Republic FC in the 'Hunt' for the Open Cup

Republic FC players meet along the sideline during a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match against LAFC on Wednesday at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles.
Republic FC players meet along the sideline during a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match against LAFC on Wednesday at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles. Courtesy of Republic FC

Republic FC's run against a field of mostly MLS competition is over.

Despite holding the lead twice, an 89th-minute strike by Latif Blessing ended Sacramento's shot at the title Wednesday as Los Angeles Football Club won 3-2 to remain unbeaten at home in all competitions.

This is the second year in a row Republic FC reached the fifth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup tournament, but couldn't overcome a second consecutive MLS opponent. The USL side — one of just three out of 16 teams in this round — got here this year after upsetting MLS Cup runner-up Seattle Sounders FC 2-1 in extra time June 6.

On Wednesday at Banc of California Stadium, Sacramento opened the scoring in the 35th. After Jure Matjasic was stopped by LAFC keeper Tyler Miller, Elliott Hord smashed home the rebound to put Republic in front.

Josh Cohen kept Sacramento ahead at the break with a 45th-minute save on a penalty kick from Benny Feilhaber — a man who has played on two Open Cup winners and has 44 caps for the U.S. Men's National Team, including a spot on the 2010 World Cup roster.

Feilhaber would later get his revenge. In the 58th minute, he pulled the newest MLS club level with a low shot from the left side of the box that skipped past Cohen for the tying goal.

Republic FC snatched the lead back just two minutes later, when Villyan Bijev took a pass from Jaime Villarreal near the top-center of the box and fired a shot to the right of Miller for the 2-1 advantage.

LAFC, which could have scored more Wednesday if not for the pesky crossbar, tied it again in the 67th behind Diego Rossi, who scored from the left side of the box.

The teams remained deadlocked until the 89th, when Rossi charged down the right side of the field and sent a low pass into the box that was buried by Blessing for the final tally.

LAFC, a first-year MLS club, now has four wins, four draws and zero losses at home this season.

Louisville City FC is the final USL squad in the event. The other seven are MLS sides, including defending champion Sporting KC.

Republic FC's USL season continues Saturday at home against Saint Louis FC. Kickoff at Papa Murphy's Park is at 8 p.m.

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