SACRAMENTO — Despite a goal from San Jose Earthquakes loanee and Davis-native Adam Jahn, Sacramento Republic FC lost, 2-1, to the Harrisburg City Islanders on Saturday night at Hughes Stadium.
Islander attackers Robbie Derschang and Morgan Langley scored at the beginning of each half to give Harrisburg, which came into the game dead last in USL Pro, its first victory of the season.
“It went wrong everywhere, difficult night,” Republic FC coach Preki told The Enterprise. “Obviously high expectations, not just because of the incredible crowd that we had, but I always have high expectations for my group. For us to start this game like that, and obviously to start the second half like that, was pretty disappointing I thought.”
After the Islanders opened the scoring in the sixth minute, thanks to a calm side-footed finish from Derschang after Ivorian forward Yann Ekra sent him though, the teams settled into a lull, with most of the play coming through the midfield.
That changed in the 33rd minute as Jahn headed in the first ever Republic FC (2-3-1) home goal after an in-swinging free kick from Max Alvarez found the former Jesuit star at the far post. The tally sent the crowd of 20,231, a USL Pro regular-season record, into pandemonium.
“We’re obviously bummed not to get the win, but I’m happy to get a game in and help the team,” Jahn said. “We need to get you guys a win, so that’s what we’re going to do this week.”
Harrisburg (1-2-1) retook the lead shortly after halftime when Morgan Langley threaded the needle at the near post after he was sent through by a teammate in the 52nd minute against the run of play leading to a shower of boos from the home fans.
“I tried to prepare the group all week, make sure that we keep our feet on the ground and that we’re not too excited and we find a way to deal with the crowd and all the things that are going along around us,” Preki said of the magnitude of the event. “Obviously, there’s a few players that have played in front of a crowd like this, and that could have played a part. It’s hard for me to say, and that would be just a bad excuse for me. I’m not making excuses right now.”
The match was played on a narrow pitch, leading to a congested midfield and few chances from each side.
Once the Islanders took the lead for good, they bunkered, playing with most of their team behind the ball while waiting to attack after Sacramento turnovers.
“We were expecting the tightness of the field. We were training this week on a shorter field,” Jahn said. “At times we were getting success, I don’t think we did enough. But the other team had to do the same thing, so it’s really not an excuse.”
Note: At the end of the 90 minutes, Sacramento fans cheered the home side off of the field despite the losing effort.
— Reach Evan Ream at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanReam