Sacramento Republic defeats Loudon 4-0 in USL football game
Jack Gurr was adamant on Saturday night.
A teammate missed a mission and the Sacramento Republic midfielder had to give the ball to visiting Loudon. Gurr, a 26-year-old Englishman, shouted at his teammate, pointing to where he should have been.
Never mind that Sacramento was leading 3-0, on the way to a dominating 4-0 win. This is a team that lost a heartbreak to Orlando on Wednesday night in the US Open Cup final. The Quails spent most of Thursday returning to Sacramento. After light practice, disappointment would have been natural.
Except Gurr is too intense for anything resembling a disappointment, even with many key players taking Saturday night.
“I just felt like we had to, you know, keep the vocals going and it was just as important to get a clean sheet and be good behind the ball,” Gurr said.
Coach Mark Briggs is a fan of Gurr’s intensity. He serves as a coach on the field, gets red in the face, and keeps his teammates level.
“That’s what it takes, isn’t it? Briggs said. “You have to have standards and you have to continue to meet those standards, regardless of the score. And that’s what you have to love about Jack. You lead 3-0 and he is still demanding.
Gurr’s performance exemplified the most interesting part of Sacramento’s beating of Loudon. The Republic dominated Loudon 23-5 and allowed no shots on goal. With the US Open Cup in the past, the media contingent was reduced to its usual size – journalists from Telemundo and The Bee. ESPN’s production team was gone. There was no military overflight during the national anthem. The field is a bit brown now; the turf was replaced and bright green for a semi-final match with Sporting KC in late July.
The crowd gave several key players from Wednesday’s game a standing ovation as they made their way to the bench before the start of the game. Team captain Rodrigo Lopez and Matt LaGrassa entered together; RoRo applauded the fans. In all, the Quails had five players on the bench who played in Wednesday night’s game against Orlando.
Nothing looked like a surrender against Loudon. It was impressive because Loudon, an Eastern Conference basement team, has won three of its last six games entering Saturday’s contest. They had no chance on Saturday.
The Sacramento Republic hit the goal frame four times in the first half. Jamaican Deshorn Brown had an impressive first half, sending the ball from the top of the crossbar on a shot from deep inside the penalty area. But the halftime score was 0-0 as Sacramento just couldn’t get past the goalkeeper.
At the break, Briggs told Sacramento to be ruthless in the second half. It worked.
In the 48th minute, Loudon goalkeeper Luis Zamudio mishandled a pass. With no other defenders around, Brown fought for the ball one-on-one with the keeper and kicked it into the back of the net. The crowd erupted.
In the 56th, Gurr put the ball at his feet just outside the penalty area and circled towards the middle of the pitch. He put his feet down and hammered a low shot into the bottom right corner of the net. The weight was off. He gave the crowd a fistfight celebration.
In the 65th, defender Dan Casey took a long pass from Damia Viader and hammered a header at Zamudio. Casey picked up the rebound about 3 feet from the goal line and fired a shot into the top of the net. 3-0.
Substitute Luther Archimede came on in the 82nd minute, scoring in a one-on-one against the goalkeeper.
The win puts Sacramento solidly in fourth place in the Western Conference, four points ahead of New Mexico and five points behind Colorado Springs. With six games left in the regular season, it’s clear the Quails will make it to the playoffs. Instead of being discouraged by the US Open Cup loss, Sacramento might have brought something else back: the arrogance and confidence to compete with the best soccer teams in the country.
“It’s obviously been a grueling week after Wednesday, with all the travel and disappointment,” Briggs said. “To come back then and produce a performance like that at home in front of our fans, it feels great.”