With coach Paul Buckle in the United Kingdom to be with his ailing father, Republic FC put on its biggest offensive show of the season in beating Saint Louis FC 4-3 Saturday night on the road in front of an announced crowd of 5,543 at the World Wide Technology Soccer Park.
Cameron Iwasa had two goals; Matt LaGrassa and San Jose Earthquakes loan player Tommy Thompson two assists each and Sacramento (10-6-7, 37 points) scored three times in the first 17 minutes to move into a three-way tie for first place with the Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 and Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC in the Western Conference.
It was the most goals scored by Republic FC in USL play this season and avenged a 1-0 loss to Saint Louis (7-9-7, 28 pts.) on April 23 at Bonney Field.
Buckle flew to the UK to be with his father Johnny, who club officials say is suffering a serious, undisclosed illness. Republic FC assistant head coach Adam Smith filled in.
JJ Koval put Republic FC on the scoreboard in the fifth minute when he headed from in front of the goal Thompson’s well-placed cross. Iwasa beat Saint Louis defender AJ Cochran to a ball in the box from LaGrassa’s soft pass in the 11th minute, flicking a perfectly placed shot past Saint Louis goalkeeper Ryan Thompson. Six minutes later LaGrassa’s cross found Octavio Guzman for a one-touch back-post goal from five yards out.
Mike Ambersley cut Sacramento’s lead to 3-1 with a goal in the 26th minute, but Republic FC moved ahead by three goals again when an unmarked Iwasa scored on a back-post header from Thompson’s cross in the 57th minute. It was Iwasa’s ninth USL goal.
Saint Louis’ Jordan Roberts closed the gap to 4-2 in the 74th minute when his blast directly at goalkeeper Evan Newton deflected off Newton’s gloves and into the net. Saint Louis captain Chad Bond, a former Republic FC player, cut the lead to one with his bending free-kick goal from the top of the box in the 90th minute, then Sacramento held off Saint Louis in the final four minutes of stoppage time.
Saint Louis outshot Republic FC 15-10.
Republic FC announced early Saturday afternoon that Buckle had to leave the team.
“The club asks for fans and the community to keep Coach Buckle, his father and family in their prayers and thoughts, and to respect their privacy during this time,” Republic FC said in a release.
In early July in an interview with The Bee, Buckle said the only drawback coaching Republic FC is the distance from his family, especially while his father has been ill.
“That’s the tough side,” Buckle said. “I’d love my dad to be here watching these games. It’s the only club he hasn’t seen me manage or be involved with from a player to a coach.”