Sacramento Republic FC goalkeeper Danny Vitiello celebrates an Open Cup victory over Sporting Kansas City. (USA TODAY Sports)
Sacramento Republic’s historic run in the Lamar Open Cup came to an end in the final on Sept. as it lost to Orlando City SC at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Fla. on Sept. 7.
The USL Championship side grabbed headlines by becoming a giant killer in the annual competition, winning five games, including three over MLS sides.
Sacramento got the attention of the American soccer community as it tried to become the first non-Major League Soccer team to win the competition since the Rochester Raging Rhinos pulled off the feat in 1999.
It began with a 6-0 thumping of the Portland Timbers U-23 side on April 7 and continued with a 2-1 win over Central Valley Fuego FC on April 20 and 2-0 victory over Phoenix Rising FC on May 11.
In the Round of 16, Sacramento stunned the San Jose Earthquakes, 2-0, as former Earthquake Luis Felipe scored in the first half and Rodrigo Lopez added an insurance tally in the final half on May 25.
Felipe snapped a 1-1 deadlock in the 70th minute to lift Republic FC to a 2-1 win over the LA Galaxy in the quarterfinals on June 21. Lopez had given the USL side a fourth-minute lead, but LA equalized on an-18th minute own goal.
In the semifinals on July 27, goalkeeper Danny Vitiello grabbed national headlines when he made a vital save in extratime and then another in the shootout win over Sporting Kansas City. Sacramento won the tie-breaker, 5-4, after playing to a scoreless draw in Sacramento, Calif.
Sacramento’s glass carriage turned into a pumpkin when it met its match against host Orlando City SC on Sept. 7 as the hosts won a 3-0 game. The California team held its own until the 75th minute, when Facundo Torres scored the first of his two goals. He doubled Orlando’s second tally five minutes later via a penalty kick. Six minutes into stoppage time, Michel put an exclamation point on the victory, Orlando’s first championship.
Friday: Story No. 9