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Sacramento Republic frustrated after a contentious penalty

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Sacramento’s Duke Lacroix handles the ball between a pair of New Mexico players during a 0-0 tie Wednesday, May 4, 2022.

Sacramento Republic

There’s not much to say about a scoreless tie.

Usually.

For 85 minutes Wednesday night, New Mexico and Sacramento Republic didn’t provide much drama. The game ended in a scoreless draw, but Sacramento coach Mark Briggs was still muttering after the game about the officiating on a call in the 86th minute that made the tie possible.

Late in the game, Sacramento’s Luther Archimede charged through the New Mexico defense and found himself one-on-one with goalkeeper Ford Parker. Inside the penalty box, Archimede deked to his right; rather than give up a goal, Parker tripped Archimede to set up a penalty shot.

Briggs was still steaming after the game about Parker’s yellow card. By the rules, it should have been a red card and an ejection; New Mexico didn’t have a backup keeper on its roster for the night and would have been in deep trouble without Parker on the field.

But the officials didn’t see it that way. Instead, Rodrigo Lopez lined up for a penalty kick on Parker. As he planted, he seemed to slip on the field – the midfield grass watered at halftime – and the ball soared over the net. Lopez laid on the field in disbelief after the shot and after the game.

“I feel sorry for RoRo there at the end,” Briggs said. “Because you know he’s performed and he’s been there for us and when you put yourself in those positions, sometimes it doesn’t always work out for you. Credit to RoRo for stepping up in that moment (to take the penalty shot). Didn’t work out tonight but it will work out in other games.”

Other than that moment, not a lot happened. It was, after all, a scoreless tie.

Both teams managed just three shots on goal and both teams mismanaged final shots that could have been more dangerous. Briggs rested multiple players for most of the game, possibly in an effort to conserve energy in the middle of a very busy slate of matches. Sacramento travels to New York on Friday and will face the Red Bulls II on Sunday. Then the Quails fly back to Sacramento and face Phoenix in a U.S. Open Cup match Wednesday.

If there was a positive from the scoreless draw, it was the work of Sacramento’s defense. Goalkeeper Danny Vitiello turned in his first shutout of the season. He credited the work of the defenders in front of him for preventing threatening situations. The tie was frustrating but Vitiello tried to urge patience.

“We’re obviously (still) a new group, and it’s still kind of early in the season,” he said. “So I mean, we keep going. We’re still undefeated at home, and once we put everything together, you know, we’re gonna be a tough team in this league.”

The Quails haven’t lost in seven straight home games, dating back to last season. Nobody was particularly satisfied with that particular stat after the tie.

Sacramento’s players and coaches seemed primarily concerned with Lopez, the team’s 34-year-old leader who is in his third stint with Republic. Lopez was one of the first players off the field, which is unusual for the effervescent leader.

“RoRo’s just the heartbeat of this team,” Vitiello said. “He’s amazing, you know. We’ll pick him up. He’ll pick himself up. You know, he’s an amazing professional. He did his job tonight. He ran end to end and is an outstanding player and we can’t thank him enough and we love to have him on his team. (Penalty kicks) are a lottery; things happen. We’ve made saves for penalties this year, we’ve scored all of them except for tonight. So it’s a lottery, every penalty. You just gotta hope that the goalkeeper dives the wrong way and put in the back of the net.”

James Patrick has covered the beer scene from Maine to California. (OK, mostly just those two.) He’s worked at newspapers in six states as a sports reporter, sports editor, social media editor and newspaper carrier. He’s as comfortable drinking a High Life as a wild-fermented raspberry sour.



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