SACRAMENTO – Last week it was extreme heat. This time it was extreme smoke. The character-building exercise in the capital city continues as Republic FC once again faced a uniquely challenging circumstance that had the potential to affect the quality of performance and the outcome on the pitch. This time, however, it was not an exercise of perseverance in high temperature, but rather one of fierce competitors blazing trails through smoke on a mission to win.

Sacramento took to the pitch on the 3-match win streak. Portland, on the other hand, entered on a 6-match losing streak. Once the typical back and forth was done, both clubs stepped up the aggressiveness of play, but it was Portland that landed on the scoreboard first. Jorge Gonzalez found the back of net (23’) and celebrated with a run, roar and slide worthy of full house witness.

From there on, the boys in red struggled to generate opportunities in the box. Portland’s amazing center back, Mamadou Danso, absolutely dominated the area in front of the goal. Getting beyond him was difficult. His imposing size and athleticism could only be beaten with speed and precision. Throughout the remainder of the first half, Sacramento could not come up with an answer.

It was not until the 60th minute that the boys in red equalized on a goal by Drew Skundrich off an assist by Ashkanov Apollon. Continuing the trend of unselfish play and excellent communication, the pair worked together to find the back of the net. The moment served as a wakeup call for a squad that some think could make a decent playoff run.

That spark quickly led to another Republic goal, this time by Cameron Iwasa (69’). This was Iwasa’s 51st USL goal, continuing where he left off the previous week, and giving Sacramento the lead.

Minutes later, Sacramento substituted Sam Werner for Villyan Bijev, and the remainder of the match brimmed with hope that Werner would fulfill on his high energy quest for the net that was so powerfully apparent just one week ago. Unfortunately, despite four minutes of stoppage time, the quest would extend into the future.

Republic finished the match victorious, 2-1 over Portland Timbers 2, notching their fourth win of the season (5-1-3) to remain tied with Reno at 18 points, though second in the Group A standings. The club travels to Portland to play Timbers 2 again on Saturday, September 2 at Providence Park. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30pm Pacific. It will be broadcast live on KQCA My58, Estrella TV, and through ESPN+.

Ahsan Awan has been covering sports for over a decade, and has been covering professional soccer, and Sacramento Republic FC, since their debut in 2014. All images taken by Ahsan Awan for American Presswire and ©2020 American Presswire. He can be found on Twitter as @quackarazzi and on Instagram as @quackarazzi.