Player Ratings: Sacramento Republic 0-1 Birmingham Legion
Winning on the back foot
If they don’t score, they can’t win. Also, they have to play from the opening whistle, not 64 seconds later. A weird win for the Three Sparks all the way out west. They have one more trip that far (10 minutes longer by plane according to Google) when they head to Oakland October 1. At least that one will have a 9pm kickoff. Anyway, here how the boys did:
GK: MATT VAN OEKEL – 8. SacRep took 19 shots, but Matt only had to stop 3 of them. Only 1 was a major save. 2 more shots hit the woodwork, but MVO had both covered. He now has 8 clean sheets for the season, tied for best with Miami’s Connor Sparrow and El Paso’s Evan Newton. He is 2nd in the Golden Glove race with a 0.77 goals against average. That’s well behind Louisville’s Kyle Morton at 0.57, but Morton has played 4 fewer games.
LB: RYAN JAMES – 7. Moved back to fullback in the absence of Mikey Lopez (for reasons unknown), Ryan did a sterling job. 76.2% accurate on 42 passes, including 1 of 2 on crosses. He won 6 of 9 duels and logged 2 tackles, 1 clearance and 2 interceptions.
CB: PHANUEL KAVITA – 8.5. It was tempting not to dock Phanny a half point for the yellow, which burned up some key stoppage time. But he deserved it. Other than that, he was the stalwart in defense. A moderate 17 of 22 passes completed, and only 2 of 5 in duels as well as 1 tackle, 4 clearances and 1 interception. The numbers don’t show it, but he was the primary reason for the win and gets our Man of the Match honors.
CB: ALEX CROGNALE – 8. Alex kept his head throughout the entire game. His passing was decent at 67.9% accuracy on 28 attempts. He surprisingly won only 3 of 7 duels, but had 3 tackles, 5 clearances and 1 interception.
RB: JONNY DEAN – 9. Another great performance from Hotlinks. A solid 30 of 37 passing, although both crosses failed to connect. 5 of 8 in duels and he racked up 4 tackles, 7 clearances and 1 interception.
LDM: ANDERSON ASIEDU – 6.5. The early yellow card, to which he loudly (and wrongly) objected, may have slowed Little Tank down, but he was a tad off this game. A creditable 89.7% accuracy rate on 39 passes and 1 chance created, but he won only 3 of 11 duels. Add to that 1 tackle, 1 clearance and 1 interception for a very average night.
RDM: ZACH HERIVAUX – 8.5. Zach picked up a second half yellow for a roughish but very necessary tackle, but was otherwise very on his game. 90.2% accurate in passing and 1 shot off target. He won 8 of a whopping 15 duels and recorded 2 tackles. A key part of the win.
RAM: MARLON SANTOS – 7.5. Yet another yellow card recipient, Marlon had a pretty decent 75 minutes all told. 10 of 13 passes connected and 1 blocked shot. He won only 4 of 12 duels, but that number indicates how far off the Legion goal the team kept the Republic.
CAM: ENZO MARTINEZ – 8. With that perfectly timed pass, Enzo now has sole possession of the team leads in goals and assists. His passing was OK at 70.6% on 34 tries, and he won 5 of his 10 duels. He also had 2 shots, 1 blocked and 1 off target.
LAM: PROSPER KASIM – 6. So: does Prosper belong on the right or the left? He had no shots or crosses in this game and created only one chance and seemed to struggle in his 67 minutes of playing time.
FWD: JUAN AGUDELO – 7.5. 1 shot and a yellow card in 67 minutes usually isn’t considered a good performance for a starting striker, but, hey, Juan didn’t get a lot of service. That 1 shot was all it took, though, and at 63 seconds it set a new record for the fastest goal by a Legion player. The previous record was all the way back on 9/14/19 when Brian Wright scored in 146 seconds against Atlanta United 2. The next best was Neco Brett, 7 seconds slower against OKC Energy on 6/21/21. Interestingly, all three were scored on the road.
SUB: MATAEO BUNBURY – 7. Bringing in a 17-year-old in a game clearly meant for wily veterans was a gutsy move, but Mataeo did not appear at all overwhelmed. Only 4 passes in 23 official minutes (3 connecting) and 1 of 3 duels won.
SUB: EDI HORVAT – 6. 15 minutes on the field and he looked shaky. But then, he is not a defensive player. Just 1 pass (it was good) but he lost all 7 of his duels and recorded no other actions.
SUB: GRAYSON DUPONT – 6. Came on with Bruno and similarly had little impact on the game. Good on 4 of 6 passes and lost 1 duel. That’s it.
SUB: BRUNO LAPA – 6.5. Last man in with 3 official minutes left, Bruno managed to miss on 2 of 3 passes, lose a duel and get a yellow card.
HC: TOMMY SOEHN – 7. If you need a strong defensive game, I guess it helps to have a defensively-minded coach. The team was unable to generate much of the counter-attacking we really need to see from them, but they gave the defensive performance of a lifetime.