Sacramento Republic FC defeated the Rochester Rhinos 1:0 in Sahlen's Stadium on Friday, May 23rd 2014. Thomas Stewart scored the game winning goal for the visitors in the 74th minute off of an assist from Max Alvarez. The goal was Stewart's fourth of the season, and the assist was the second of the season for Alvarez. The loss ended a seven match unbeaten streak for the Rhinos that had propelled them from the bottom of the USL PRO table into fourth place over the past month.
Sacramento Republic FC scored the only goal of the match with just over 15 minutes remaining. The visitors took a throw-in on the right flank 30 yards out from the Rhinos goal. Rochester was able to press Republic and turn the ball over, but Sacramento substitute Max Alvarez was the first player to the loose ball. Alvarez took a touch before playing the ball into the Rhinos box to forward Thomas Stewart. Stewart received the ball with his back to goal, but he was able to use his left foot to spin to his right and turn on Rochester center back Kyle Hoffer. Stewart finished the ball past Rochester Rhinos starting goalkeeper Luis Soffner and into the lower right corner of the goal to give the visitors their margin of victory.
Sacramento Republic FC controlled possession in the early going and had a couple half chances in the first ten minutes to open the match. Midfielder Carlos Martinez got loose in the Rhinos box, and the Republic were able to find him with a cross from the right flank. Martinez settled the service with a touch and tried to finish with his right foot, but Rochester center back Tony Walls was able to block the shot away. Two minutes later Stewart drove down the left side of the Rhinos penalty box and blistered a shot at goal, but Soffner was at the near post to make the save.
The Rhinos had their best chance of the first half in the 27th minute. Striker JC Banks held up the ball on the right flank with his right foot, cut it back to his left foot, and then served the ball past two defenders and into the Republic box. Attacking midfielder Minh Vu met Banks service with a header at the far post that he redirected across the front of the goal mouth. Sacramento goalkeeper Dominik Jakubek was stranded on the post, but Rhinos attacking midfielder Tyler Rosenlund could not finish.
Sacramento Republic FC had another chance in the 37th minute off of a set piece. Republic star midfielder Rodrigo Lopez served a ball into the Rhinos six yard box from the left corner. 6'1” Sacramento defender Michael Daly was there to meet the service with a header, but he was not able to direct his effort on target.
The Rhinos had another open look in the 39th minute. Vu picked up a loose ball in Sacramento's half of the field. Vu drove the ball down the right side of the Republic penalty area before playing it across the six yard box for fellow attacking midfielder Levi Houapeu. Houapeu tried to finish with his first touch but could not get his effort on target.
The Rhinos had the opening chance of the second half in the 55th minute. JC Banks picked up a loose ball 40 yards out from Sacramento Republic FC goal, and drove down the middle of the pitch. Banks picked out Houapeu's inch perfect run and put him through with a pass to his left. Houapeu was in on Sacramento's goal, but hit his shot directly at Jakubek in the Republic goal.
The visiting Republic had their opening chance of the second half in the 63rd minute. Sacramento had a throw-in 35 yards out from the Rhinos goal on the left flank. After playing a couple passes to feet on the left flank the Republic served an early ball into Rochester's penalty area. Sacramento target forward Justin Braun got to the near post service at the top of the six yard box, but he couldn't get his header on target.
Rochester had a chance to find the equalizer and extend their unbeaten streak to eight matches in the 82nd minute. The Rhinos played a corner kick from the left corner to Walls at the top left corner of the penalty area. Walls chipped a ball into the middle of the penalty area for substitute striker Colin Rolfe. Rolfe flicked a header to the far post, and the ball found the right foot of substitute Jonny Mendoza. Menodza hit a full volley from the right side of Sacramento Republic FC penalty area, but his effort went into the side panel.
The Rhinos had one final chance to tie the match in stoppage time. Walls won a long ball that had been hit into Sacramento's box at the back post for the Rhinos. Walls header knocked the ball down in the box at the top left corner of the six yard box. Banks was first to the loose ball, and had a half chance on a left footed side volley. Jakubek stayed big and parried the shot away with his right hand at the near post.
Jakubek was credited with two saves on six shots faced for his second shut out of the season.
The Rochester Rhinos next home match will be in the Third Round of the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup against Reading United AC on Tuesday, May 27th 2014 at 7:35PM.