Despite playing in front of another record crowd and outshooting its opponent 18-8, Republic FC settled for a 1-1 draw with the Real Monarchs SLC in a wild and chippy match Saturday night at Bonney Field.
David Estrada scored for Republic FC in the 19th minute on an assist by Ivan Mirkovic to tie the score 1-1. The Real Monarchs FC had taken a 1-0 lead in the seventh minute on Max Rauhofer’s penalty kick. It came after Republic FC defender Mickey Daly took down Ricardo Velasco in the box.
Republic FC (6-5-1) had a chance to take the lead in the 35th minute after Cameron Iwasa was brought down in the box by the Real Monarchs’ Alex Sundly. But goalkeeper Eric Osswald blocked Justin Braun’s penalty kick in the lower left corner.
Sacramento misfired on several opportunities, some right around the net. Nemanja Vukovic’s header hit the right post on a corner kick in the 89th minute.
“They came to spoil the game, they came to play, and they did,” Republic FC coach Preki said of the Real Monarchs SLC. “It’s disappointing we lost five points to this team.”
The Real Monarchs (1-6-4) entered the match last in the USL Western Conference, and their only victory was 1-0 over Republic FC in Sandy, Utah, on April 29.
There were a total of 32 fouls, 16 for each team. The Real Monarchs played the final six minutes a man down after defender Emilio Orozco received his second yellow card and was ejected.
Preki juggled his starting lineup. Braun, usually the target forward, played left outside midfielder for the first time, and center midfielder Octavio Guzman moved outside right for the first time this season. That’s where Republic FC star Rodrigo Lopez normally plays. But Lopez was serving the first of a three-match suspension for his red card in Sacramento’s 2-1 loss at the Oklahoma City Energy FC on May 23.
Iwasa, the former Jesuit High School star in his first pro season, made his first USL start at target forward, and rookie Zeb Taublieb made his second USL start in central midfield.
Iwasa proved a handful for the Real Monarchs’ defense and factored into Republic FC’s goal by winning a battle against a Real Monarchs defender outside the box, making a quick turn and slotting the ball to the onrushing Mirkovic. He crossed to Estrada, who was coming from the back post.
“Lot of good in the first half, lot of good movement and good play,” Preki said. “As usual, the game should have been over at halftime. It should have been 5-0. But we managed to give them a goal on a penalty kick. The second half was so-so. We played desperate and never believed in our system.”
It was the 18th consecutive USL sellout at Bonney Field. But it was an announced record crowd of 11,442 after some new seating was opened in the Mount Battalion section of the stadium.
Bill Paterson: (916) 326-5506, @SacBee_BillP