By Jonas Shladovsky
Following an electric 3-3 draw between the Oakland Roots and Sacramento Republic FC on June 2, the two NorCal-based USL Championship (second tier) clubs produced another lively affair on Wednesday, albeit one ending in a 0-0 scoreline. Republic controlled the tempo from minute 1 to 90, enjoying ample possession in Oakland’s half and getting into goal scoring positions. A surprise attacking catalyst for the home team was fullback Leo LaCroix, who
fearlessly drove forward and played multiple incisive passes into the 18-yard box. LaCroix, along with dynamic midfielders Petteri Pennanen and Mario Penagos, made plays in both halves. Their efforts went unrewarded as Republic’s forwards often dilly-dallied on the ball, spurning shooting opportunities.
The Roots will be happy to exit this clash with a point (a tie). The Oaklanders were in defensive disarray at many times, however, a convincing, statement performance by backup keeper Taylor Bailey and some scrappy late-game tackling were enough to eke out a shutout. Going forward, the visitors found their rhythm in the last twenty minutes, stringing together some crisp, line-breaking passing combinations. Their endeavors to create chances were ultimately thwarted by a couple offside calls and decisive defending by the Republic led by strongman center-back Mitch Taintor.
At Republic’s last home game against Phoenix Rising, the rowdy atmosphere at Heart Health Park was palpable; the chorus of fans chanting for minutes on end were more than audible on my ESPN+ stream. I believe, as the Roots start to establish themselves as a Championship club (this is only their first season in the division), this fixture will begin to take on the implications of a fiesty, East Bay versus Sacramento Valley rivalry for both sets of fans to pour
their hearts into.
Sac Republic: (2 W, 3 T, 5 L, 9 PTS, 7th in Pacific Division)
Oakland Roots: (1 W, 3 T, 3 L, 6 PTS, 8th in Pacific Division)