Republic FC’s record is rising against Phoenix. Why they’re not overjoyed by the result

Republic FC goalkeeper Josh Cohen makes a leaping first-half save against Phoenix Rising FC on Saturdat at Papa Murphy’s Park.
Republic FC goalkeeper Josh Cohen makes a leaping first-half save against Phoenix Rising FC on Saturdat at Papa Murphy’s Park.

Republic FC had never lost to its latest opponent on their home pitch. That remains true, but the hosts weren’t overly thrilled about the result.

Despite several scoring chances for Sacramento, the match with Phoenix Rising FC ended in a scoreless draw Saturday night at Papa Murphy’s Park.

Republic FC improved to 3-2-2 (11 points) this season to move into a five-way tie for fifth place in the USL Western Conference standings. The home team feels it should have come away with the three points.

“We’re not happy to drop points at home, but we’re happy that we didn’t concede, so we can be happy with part of our game,” Republic FC midfielder Ray Saari said.

The hosts had a multitude of scoring chances in the opening half, the first coming in the second minute when Saari played a through ball down the sideline to a sprinting Tyler Blackwood. He fed the ball into the box and, after a touch by Drew Skundrich, Sam Werner’s shot went wide.

Sacramento kept getting opportunities to put one past Phoenix goalkeeper Zachary Lubin and in the 17th minute, they did. Blackwood fired a rebound off Lubin into the goal, but an offside call nullified the score.

Republic FC coach Simon Elliott would have liked to see at least one of his team’s chances go in. Sacramento has scored just twice in its last four matches during a 1-2-1 stretch.

“Throw a knee at it, throw a shoulder, put your head in there,” Elliott said. “Do what you have to do to get the ball in the back of the net.”

Phoenix also had some good chances to score, but Sacramento goalkeeper Josh Cohen was in no mood to be gracious to the visitors. He made two leaping saves in the first half to help keep the score level.

“He’s been reliable and dependable, and he had a good game tonight,” Elliott said. “I think we need to help him out a little bit. If we get more correct in front of him, then he doesn’t have to make those saves.

“It’s a clean sheet and we didn’t give anything up. That’s great ... but it’s two points dropped.”

Republic FC didn’t get quite as many chances in the second half. Saari said part of the reason for that was because they shifted to a style that they don’t normally play.

“I think we found that we could play quickly with one or two passes instead of passing the ball around, like we usually do, so we turned the game into more of a fast-paced game that didn’t suit us in the second half, and our chances suffered because of that,” he said.

Republic FC is now 3-0-4 all time at home against Phoenix Rising FC.

Sacramento is on the road for its next two games – May 4 vs. Las Vegas and May 8 against Fresno – before facing Reno 1868 FC in two consecutive tilts, May 11 in USL play and four days later in a second-round U.S. Open Cup match.

Noel Harris is a sports reporter for The Sacramento Bee, with a focus on the Kings. He’s been in professional journalism for more than 18 years. His roles have included sports editor at The Modesto Bee and news editor at two smaller California newspapers, as well as online producer and copy editor.