SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sacramento Republic FC and the Tacoma Defiance played to a 0-0 draw on Sunday afternoon at Heart Health Park that had its fair share of drama in the second half but no decisive finish as the playoff chances for both sides faded a little further.
The early urgency both sides showed was quelled by both defenses as the Defiance closed down passing and shooting lanes well as Sacramento edged possession but couldn’t find any clear chances early. The Defiance had similar challenges, although in the 25th minute a well-executed counterattack appeared to have sprung Samuel Adeniran in behind the backline for a well-taken finish to the right corner, but the offside flag was raised on a close call just inside the Republic FC half.
Republic FC built a steady stream of pressure just past the half-hour, including a long-range shot by Emil Cuello that took a big deflection wide of the left post, but Tacoma continued to defend impressively to keep the hosts from finding success inside the penalty area. The hosts went close in first-half stoppage time as first Dariusz Formella stretched to connect with a cutback cross from Cameron Iwasa at the right byline but saw his finish slide just wide of the left post before Cuello shot wide of the left post with another long-range effort.
Having had a goal disallowed in the first half due to offside, Adeniran set up a good chance for Tacoma five minutes into the second half as he floated a ball from the left flank to Ray Serrano as he moved into the top of the penalty area to catch a first-time strike on the half-volley that went over the crossbar. The Defiance’s pressure continued and Serrano was denied by a good save from Republic FC goalkeeper Carlos Saldana as he came off his line after the Tacoma attacker broke onto a pass by Cody Baker into the right side of the penalty area before defender Dan Casey blocked a follow-up effort by Tom Brewitt.
Baker then made a key block at the other end for the visitors as Cuello picked out Iwasa with a chipped cross to the back post from the right the Republic FC striker volleyed into the Defiance player and saw it deflect off target. Iwasa then set up a good opportunity for Kharlton Belmar in the 68th minute as the Grenada international broke into the penalty area but sent his finish just wide of the right post.
The hosts continued to press for the breakthrough and with 18 minutes to go Cuello fired a low shot from long range that Herrera initially spilled before gathering the rebound ahead of Iwasa’s attempt to put away the loose ball. Cuello then had a big opportunity a few minutes later as he was played into the right side of the penalty area after a turnover, but he mishit his finish wide of the right post.
Tacoma also got a golden opportunity to take the lead with 10 minutes to go when Adeniran created space to cross from the left and delivered low to the center of the penalty area but Marlon Vargas’ first-time finish flew high of the crossbar. The visitors then almost handed Sacramento the lead six minutes later as off a deliver by Cuello from the left, Tacoma defender Joe Hafferty headed off his own crossbar trying to clear before Iwasa’s chance on the rebound was saved.
The Defiance had one final chance to grab all three points in the final minute when a free kick by Carlos Aguiano from the left channel was sent into the right side of the penalty area where Jackson Ragen headed across goal where Brewitt arrived at the left post to head on target, only for Saldana to shift across his goal quickly enough to smuggle the ball behind for a corner kick. That would the final chance, however, as the game ended scoreless.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Jackson Ragen, Tacoma Defiance – Ragen almost set up the decisive moment for the Defiance in the final minute but was solid defensively otherwise, making five clearances and winning 4 of 5 aerial duels while completing 54 of 61 passes overall.