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Sacramento Republic FC scores “walk-off win” in ugly ending at UC Davis

walk off
Head coach Preki takes the ball and leads his players (l-r; Rodrigo Lopez, Derek Foran, Gabe Gissie, Ivan Mirkovic, and Justin Braun.

Was it really a “friendly” match Saturday between the pros (United Soccer League champs Sacramento Republic FC) and the college kids (the UC Davis’ Aggies)?

Not so much.

With Sacramento holding onto a 1-0 advantage in the match’s 66th minute of play before a sellout crowd of 1,300 at the Aggie Hornet Stadium in Davis, the sometimes physical encounter suddenly turned ugly.

After Sacramento’s James Kiffe received a red card for a hit on UCD’s Noah Wilson, Sacramento Head Coach Preki suddenly pulled his team, a week away from its regular season opener in Seattle and already down several key players due to injury, off the field.

“It got out of control,” Preki tweeted post-match. “It was time for us to walk off…we can’t afford any injuries.”

“Thx to all the fans that attended our match at ‪@ucdavis‬,” said another Tweet from the Sacramento Republic FC Twitter account. “Preki & the club felt it was in all players best interest to end the match early.”

“I don’t know what happened,” UCD head coach Dwayne Shaffer told the Davis Enterprise. “I saw a fun game for everybody to be part of and what a great community event for us the Republic. I was enjoying the game.”

After Sacramento took an early lead just eight minutes in on a goal from newly acquired Gabe Gonzalez, the match got physical from then on. At halftime, Sacramento assistant coach Adam Smith had words with a UCD player, and was escorted off the field by the referee who ended up calling the game-ending red card, Matthew Buckman. Before Kiffe was red-carded to essentially end the game, referees had issued four yellow cards to UCD and two to Republic FC.

Last year, UCD beat Sacramento in a pre-season friendly 1-0. Will there be a rubber-match game next season? Guess we’ll have to wait and see about that one.

The UC Davis match came at the end of a week where the Republic got some disturbing, potentially devastating, news regarding the team’s chances of grabbing a coveted Major League Soccer expansion franchise it has been desperately seeking. A report on Sports Illustrated’s web site cited anonymous sources as saying Minnesota, which had been in competition with Sacramento for the 24th and final franchise, would be awarded the bid in the coming weeks. The report is unconfirmed, however, and MLS officials would only say the next franchise would be awarded in the next 30 to 45 days. If that happens, Sacramento’s only hope would be to grab that spot that has been promised to David Beckham’s group in Miami, should Beckham and company fail in efforts to build a stadium.

Big news will definitely be coming this spring.

The match was extremely physical from the beginning for both teams (UC Davis in the blue uniforms).
The match was extremely physical from the beginning for both teams (UC Davis in the blue uniforms).
Just seconds before the final red card was issued, UCD's Roy Boatema and Sacramento's Justin Braun battled for the ball.
Just seconds before the final red card was issued, UCD’s Roy Boatema and Sacramento’s Justin Braun battled for the ball.
UCD's Noah Wilson writhes in pain and official Matthew Beckman holds a red flag while James Kiffle (20) looks on.
UCD’s Noah Wilson writhes in pain and official Matthew Beckman holds a red flag while James Kiffe (20) looks on.
The official adds a yellow card to the action while Sacramento's Ivan Mirkovic restrains other Sacramento players.
The official adds a yellow card to the action while Sacramento’s Ivan Mirkovic restrains other Sacramento players.
Players (l-r) Rodrigo Lopez, Gabe Gissie, Derek Foran, Ivan Mirkovic, and Justin Braun walk off the field.
Players (l-r) Rodrigo Lopez, Gabe Gissie, Derek Foran, Ivan Mirkovic, and Justin Braun walk off the field.

Photos by Steve Martarano

 

About the author

Steve Martarano

A resident of Sacramento since graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Nevada, Reno, Steve spent the 1980s at The Sacramento Union, working as a sports writer, music reviewer and crime reporter, among other assignments. He's spent the last 25+ years working in government public affairs for both state and federal agencies and currently is with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Bay-Delta office in Sacramento. He has shot just about every local sports team for the Sacramento Press, including local colleges, the Sacramento River Cats and Sacramento Republic FC. He resides in Curtis Park with his wife Sharon.

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