CHARLOTTE — An early goal from Thomas Stewart was enough for Sacramento Republic FC as it rode strong defense and possession to its fifth road win of the season — but first since May 25 — defeating the Charlotte Eagles, 1-0.
The Republic (10-6-2) controlled the ball from the opening whistle and it paid off in the 10th minute, when forward Chad Bartlomé passed to midfielder Max Alvarez, who was streaking down the middle of the field. Alvarez immediately sent the ball to Stewart, who slid it under diving Eagles goalkeeper Alec Kann.
Once they captured the lead, the locals really showed their ability to possess the ball, giving Charlotte (5-10-3) just a couple of looks at the goal, both on free kicks.
In the 25th minute, Eagles midfielder Jorge Herrera bent a free kick around the wall trying to hit the lower right corner of the goal, but Sacramento keeper Jake Gleeson made a diving save.
Starting the second half with the score still 1-0, each team had one more great chance.
The Republic FC tried to double its lead in the 54th minute as Alvarez maneuvered around the defense and made a strong pass to midfielder Tommy Thompson, whose left-footed shot was saved by a diving Kann.
Charlotte’s best look at a second-half equalizer came when Kevin Duckett headed a ball toward the goal. However, the shot was headed back the other way by a Sacramento defender.
“This shows that we can win on the road, it gives us the motivation moving forward,” Gleeson said. “I think that we put out a lot of fires early and limited the counter-attack, both things we did not do before.”
The victory tied Sacramento with Orlando City SC for most USL PRO road wins, a deadlock Orlando will try to break when the two teams meet on Thursday (7:30 p.m.) at Bonney Field. The match, which pits the top two teams in the USL PRO as Orlando City is 14-0-3, should have an electric atmosphere as it is the first Republic FC game that comes during the California State Fair.