Republic FC falls to Earthquakes on penalty kicks

Republic FC coach Preki is usually pretty tough in assessing his players after a loss.

But he knew that his guys gave every thing they had Tuesday night in their highly entertaining and courageous fourth-round U.S. Open Cup match against the San Jose Earthquakes in front of an announced crowd of 13,196 at at Avaya Stadium.

Sacramento came up on the short side of a bitter 6-5 penalty kick shootout loss after holding a 2-0 lead through the first 73 minutes of regulation.

Rodrigo Lopez scored on a penalty kick in the sixth minute after Emrah Klimenta had been taken down in the box by San Jose defender Shaun Francis, then Klimenta scored in an assist by Lopez in the 54th minute.

But San Jose star forward Chris Wondolowski, second in Major League Soccer with eight goals this season, scored an unassisted goal in the 74th minute and added another five minutes later from an assist by Marvell Wynn.

The two teams combined for 30 shots – 15 each ‑ through 90 minutes of regulation and two 15-minute overtimes. It was the first overtime and PK match in Republic FC history.

“I’m incredibly proud of my guys,” Preki said. “The most important thing for us is to measure ourselves against an MLS team because we have high aspirations.We want to be an MLS team.

“…We are a good team. We came here to attack. We came here to play our brand of football. We aren’t going to sit back. Our goal is to come here and put them under pressure and dictate the tempo of the game, and I thought we did a good job of that.”

The PK shootout went to eight rounds as Republic FC goalkeeper Patrick McLain and his San Jose counterpart Bryan Meredith each had two saves. But in the final round, Francis buried his shot in the net while Republic FC’s James Kiffe’s shot went over the crossbar.

“(We feel) incredibly unfortunate not to win, even on penalty kicks,” Preki said, admitting they hadn’t put much effort into taking PKs in practice. “Not really. Our goal was to win in regulation since we have a game on Saturday (against OKC Energy FC at Bonney Field).

“We had a very short (practice) session yesterday. We just wanted to get off the field and make sure we have plenty of energy for tonight, and I thought we did. San Jose did not play Saturday We played on Saturday and traveled (to Arizona United SC). I thought we showed people in San Jose we can play.”

Sacramento had played well in its three previous meetings with its MLS affiliate. It held San Jose scoreless for 85 minutes before falling 2-0 in Turlock in a preseason friendly last season. Republic FC scored first but wound up falling 2-1 to San Jose in last year’s fourth-round Open Cup match in San Francisco, then San Jose topped Republic FC 1-0 Feb. 21 at Bonney Field.

Both teams had their chances to win in regulation and overtime.

Wondolowski just missed a hat trick in the 86th minute when a shot from the right side curled just over the right corner of the crossbar.

He missed another opportunity early in the second overtime when he slipped behind the defense but couldn’t connect on a ball near his feet in front of the goal.

Republic FC extra-time sub Adnan Gabeljic had his 100th minute blast knocked away on a diving save by Meredith; then had another crushing shot blocked by defender Victor Bernardez in 111th minute.

It was a tough result for Lopez, who had gone 20 days without playing while he sat a three-match suspension.

When Klimenta was taken down by Francis, Lopez didn’t waste any time. He quickly took the ball, lined up the shot and blasted the PK past Meredith. Then in the 54th minute he lofted a pinpoint pass to the feet of Klimenta streaking down the right sideline and into the corner of the box. Klimenta hit a low ball hard under the diving Meredith.

“We played so well for most of the game,” Lopez said. “We dominated them again. I think all four games we have dominated….At the end of the day, it’s hard to lose a game like this…. Kudos to (San Jose). They never gave up…They kept fighting.”

Former Granite Bay High standout Tommy Thompson, just back from playing for the U.S. Men’ National U-20 team in the FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand, entered the match at halftime and had two shots, one on goal saved by McLain. Thompson, who played on loan for part of the season with Republic FC, was successful on his PK.

Penalty Shootout Results:

SJ – F, Chris Wondolowski – Goal

SRFC – M, Rodrigo Lopez – Goal

SJ – D, Victor Bernardez – Goal

SRFC – D, Nemanja Vuković – Goal

SJ – M Khari Stephenson – Save

SRFC – D, Mickey Daly – Save

SJ – M, Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi – Save

SRFC – M, Gilberto – Goal

SJ – F, Tommy Thompson – Goal

SRFC – D, Emrah Klimenta – Save

SJ – M, JJ Koval – Goal

SRFC – F, David Estrada – Goal

SJ – M, Leandro Barrera – Goal

SRFC – F, Adnan Gabeljic – Goal

SJ – D, Shaun Francis – Goal

SRFC – D, James Kiffe – Miss