After coming off of two massive wins over S2 and the Las Vegas Lights FC, The Swope Park Rangers were looking to extend that number to three, but instead picked up their first home loss of the season against Sacramento Republic FC last night.
Coach Paulo Nagamura, and the rest of the Rangers, weren’t pleased with not only the result, but the level of play they put out as well.
“I think Sacramento is just a really good team. They came ready to play, ready to fight, ready to work for 90 minutes. For whatever reason, we didn’t and when you don’t come out ready to go against a quality team like that, they will make you pay for it,” commented center back Graham Smith who started and played all 90+ minutes.
The game started off strong in the opening minutes, but Sacramento quickly began to control the rhythm of play and did for the majority of the first half, despite some quality chances by the home squad.
It appeared as though both teams would enter the second half even at zero, but a late 45 minute goal by Cameron Iwasa, shot from the right side of the box, gave the visitors a much needed advantage to end the first half.
Both teams came out re-energized in the second half, but it would be Sacramento to find the back of the net first. Iwasa was at it again, and early, with a flawless header off of a cross by Emrah Klimenta.
As it has been said many times before, 2-0 is the most dangerous lead in soccer. Although Sacramento was ahead, The Rangers weren’t going to go down without a fight. In the 70th minute, the dynamic Hadji Barry and Kharlton Belmar duo combined yet again this season after a beautiful cross from Belmar found Barry at the back post who slotted it in to close the gap and make it a 2-1 game.
The Rangers pushed hard for an equalizer, but Sacramento put the proverbial nail in the coffin with a late third goal by Christian Eissele in the 88th minute.
Overall, Sacramento’s quick, aggressive play presented some difficulty for Swope in terms of getting out of the back and connecting with the midfield and offense. And, while The Rangers had some quality chances throughout the game, they just couldn’t seem to capitalize at the right moments to give themselves a strong enough chance at clinching the victory.
“I think we were second best the entire game tonight. I give credit to Sacramento and their team. I think they did well, but we were not on our game. We were slow with the ball and we gave the ball away. It was definitely a performance to look into and forget,” Nagamura said just moments after speaking with his team in the locker room.
As both coach Nagamura and Smith mentioned, though, this game would be one to “put behind them” as they move forward and look to prepare for their road match against the Portland Timbers 2 this weekend.