Football can be a cruel game sometimes. But that’s how the game goes. There has to be a winner and there has to be a loser. —Real Monarchs head coach Mark Briggs
SANDY—After scoring late in the second half to force two extra overtimes, the Real Monarchs, the top seed in the USL Cup playoffs, came up short after eight-seed Sacramento Republic FC hit three straight penalty kicks to clinch an upset victory over the USL regular-season champs at Rio Tinto Stadium Friday night.
With the win, Sacramento will move on to the second round, while the Monarchs will watch the rest of the playoffs from home.
“Football can be a cruel game sometimes,” said Monarchs coach Mark Briggs. “But that’s how the game goes. There has to be a winner and there has to be a loser.”
The match remained scoreless throughout the first half. Sacramento FC was in scoring position majority of the night, having possession 59.2 percent of the time. The Monarchs also had opportunties to score but weren't able to prevail.
Sacramento was the first to score in the second half when Wilson Kneeshaw hustled in with the assist to midfielder Luis Espino, who was wide open inside the middle of the scoring box to make it 1-0.
After multiple opportunities and missing wide open shots, the Monarchs finally got on the board to the tie the game up when Chandler Hoffman scored off a penalty kick in the 86th minute, leading to the first overtime of the night.
After two scoreless overtimes, the match came down to penalty kicks. Sacramento went 3-for-3, while the Monarchs only went 1-for-3, resulting in the loss.
Briggs tried to stay positive despite the loss and hopes to build off his team's successful season going forward despite coming up short.
"I said the team in the locker room that the game is cruel sometimes. A lot of people were upset in the locker room," Briggs said. "But I said to them 'You know, you should be proud of what you achieved this year. You should be proud of the performances you put in and points that we got and the records that we broke.' But right now it doesn't even matter and it's hard to even think about it. We lost on penalty."
Sacramento will move on to the second round to face the winner of the Swope Park Ranger-Phoenix Rising FC match, which will be on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.