Aggies win after Sac. Republic leaves match early
The highly anticipated match between the UC Davis men’s soccer team and Sacramento Republic F.C. ended abruptly after Republic’s defender James Kiffe received a red card for a hard sliding tackle against Aggie freshman midfielder Noah Wilson in the 65th minute of the match.
Republic defender Justin Braun received a yellow card for arguing with the referee after Kiffe was marked with a red card. It was then that Sacramento Republic head coach Predrag “Preki” Radosavljević ran across the sideline toward the clutter of referees, UC Davis and Republic players and event staff. The referee immediately ejected Radosavljević, and Radosavljević promptly signaled his team off the pitch, marching out of Aggie Soccer Field.
The game had already been a chippy contest, including a first half disagreement. When the first half ended, a scuffle broke out between both teams after an exchange of words between players and coaches. Republic assistant coach Adam Smith was escorted off the pitch after pushing a UC Davis player. Several players and coaches from both teams were involved.
The majority of fans were left in disbelief as Republic F.C. players followed their coaching staff out of the venue in the 65th minute. A number of Sacramento Republic fans applauded Radosavljević and the team as they left the stadium, but Republic was also met with jeers from Aggie fans.
Sacramento Republic F.C. dominated the first 20 minutes and took an early lead over the Aggies, who played conservatively. UC Davis was limited to 10 practices prior to this match and this was Republic’s last preseason match before opening the regular season on Mar. 21 against the Seattle Sounders F.C. 2.
Republic defender Gabe Gonzalez found the top-left corner of the net in the eight minute off an assist from midfielder Rodrigo Lopez.
Lopez connected with Gonzales from a free kick close to midfield. After a left-footed inside turn from Gonzales, he rocketed a shot 30 yards away from the goal, leaving UC Davis goalie Armando Quezada with no chance of saving the wondrous strike.
The Aggies were able to regain their composure after a shaky start and ended the first half with their only shot of the half. UC Davis came into the second half and were assertive with the ball. They were able to get key defensive stops and pressured Republic offensively.
“In the second half we changed our system of play to matchup with them and I thought it was very, very effective and we were getting some very good chances,” said UC Davis head coach Dwayne Shaffer of the changes tactic changes made at halftime. “We came back in the second half, we hit the crossbar. Our kid kicked a bicycle and hit the cross bar, it almost went in. We were doing some good stuff.”
Shaffer was referring to a shot attempt by freshman forward Matt Baringer who took a bicycle shot in the box that was deflected off the crossbar.
The matched ended after Wilson was clipped on a hard tackle in front of the Aggie bench and tensions rose. A total six cards were issued, including the red and yellow cards that ended the game. UC Davis was marked for four yellow cards.
The match was largely overlooked by Radosavljević’s decision to forfeit with 24 minutes remaining. Radosavljević said that it became too dangerous for his players to continue playing. Republic played without four starters who are currently out due to injuries.
“I just thought the game got out of control, and it was time for us to walk off,” said Radosavljević. “We can’t afford any injuries at the moment, and it was on the verge of bigger incidents. I made the decision that it was not safe for us.”
Radosavljević was adamant that Kiffe’s tackle was fair.
“100 percent clean tackle, I had the perfect view. I think there were a lot of bad tackles. We came here to play the game in the right way,” Radosavljević said. “We are [professionals], and this is our livelihood.”
UC Davis head coach Dwayne Shaffer also thought that a red card was unwarranted and found it strange that Radosavljević decided to forfeit the match.
“I just saw a good, hard tackle,” said Shaffer. “I saw a fun game for everyone to be a part of. What a great community event for us and the Republic. I was enjoying the game.”
But it was too late. The referees had lost control of the game after failing to call a tight game early on when both teams began to play aggressively.
Despite the theatrics, Shaffer saw many positives out of his young team. “Those guys are really good [professionals], we are a young college team and every game we play is a learning experience. Some of those guys are really good players, they’re [professionals] for a reason. Because they are and good with the ball,” Shaffer said. “It’s a great experience, we had 12 freshman playing in the game and for them to get that sort of experience at that level I thought it was good for our team. “
It is unclear whether future matches between UC Davis and Republic F.C. will be scheduled after the debacle at the Aggie Soccer Field.