Republic Stoppage Time: Anatomy of a Cupset
Welcome to the first edition of "Stoppage Time," where I'll go beyond what I can include in just a newspaper or website story to bring you closer to the teams you care about.
Today, I have some notes on Sacramento Republic FC's 3-1 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup loss Wednesday night to Kitsap Pumas of the PDL.
On paper, this result should never have happened. The Republic feature a variety of veterans and paid stars who devote their entire life to their soccer career, while Kitsap features college kids and other part-timers who couldn't or haven't quite made it.
But that's what makes the Open Cup so special. Games aren't played on paper, and some of these fourth division Kitsap Pumas players may have earned looks with fully professional teams. At the very least, they've advanced for a shot at Cup giant Seattle Sounders FC, one of the more talented sides in MLS.
On to the notes:
My favorite quote from the night came from an absolutely giddy Kitsap head coach Cameron MacDonald, as Bonney Field quickly emptied after the Pumas win.
"Some of our guys will go on and play at a good level and maybe have many more nights like that," he said about the upset. "But other guys knew that they had 90 minutes tonight to earn what might be one shot against an MLS team in their career."
The motivation for an amateur or semi-pro player in this tournament is obviously huge. The Pumas players gathered in a circle after the game and celebrated with an amount of energy that seemed impossible after they had just run their legs off for 90 minutes.
Imagine what it could look like should they upset the Sounders June 15.
While MacDonald hinted at the idea that Kitsap may look to join the USL soon in some of his quotes, the big revelation for me was the attribution of the game plan to former Sports Illustrated scribe Liviu Bird.
According to MacDonald, Bird masterminded a plan that, in short, focused on shutting down the overlapping fullbacks that the Republic get so much attacking play out of.
I wasn't aware of this until after the game, but Bird recently quit writing, telling me that his true calling was coaching.
"It really is that simple sometimes," Bird wrote on Twitter Thursday. "Nothing like being on the field every day -- last night being a prime example why."
Switching over to the Republic side, Buckle refrained from making excuses for Sacramento, but put most of the blame on the loss on individual mistakes in the back.
Buckle said multiple times that the second and third goals were gift wrapped for Kitsap.
I would be inclined to agree, but because there was no stream of the game, we weren't granted access to replays.
Normally, this wouldn't be a problem, but this is our view of the field during the game, and all three Kitsap goals were scored on the other side of the field.
Buckles assessment of the goals, one caused by a turnover from Chris Christian, one caused by a slip from Mike Da Fonte is as follows: "An individual error is something very difficult. It's really difficult to put that right. What do I say to the two back players, 'Don't play out? Don't pass all night?' Da Fonte's not played for a long time. Derek Foran had an injury, or else he would have started, so we've gone with Mike. I don't know, I'd have to see it back again, whether he's slipped, or I don't know what it was.
"But it was a gift. It was gift wrapped."
That's all from me from the Open Cup game. Check back soon as there are tons of games on my docket this month.
And please, if you have any suggestions or wants for what you're looking for from this space in the future, please send me a note on the "Contact" page.