VANCOUVER, BC – Marco Bustos’ seventh goal of the season was not enough as Whitecaps FC 2 (8W-13L-5D) fell 2-1 to Sacramento Republic FC (12W-8L-5D) at Thunderbird Stadium on Sunday. Justin Braun recorded a brace for the visitors, who have now clinched a spot in the Western Conference playoffs.

The WFC2 back line of Sahil Sandhu, Jackson Farmer, Craig Nitti and Deklan Wynne, making their second start together, figured prominently to start the match, repeatedly denying the Republic FC attack with timely clearances and interceptions. 

The ‘Caps threatened on the counter-attack in the 25th minute when Tyler Rosenlund eluded multiple defenders on the right flank before looping a cross into the box to Bustos, but Republic FC goalkeeper Dominik Jakubek was quick to react to the Bustos shot. Wynne also got into the act, blowing past defenders on the left side but Jakubek was there to stifle the New Zealander’s attempt.

Braun opened the scoring for Sacramento in the 29th minute, set up by fluid passing and player movement in the attacking third, resulting in a clear shot for the Republic FC captain from the right side. Tommy Thompson, on loan from MLS affiliate San Jose Earthquakes, was credited with the assist.

The ‘Caps had the chance for an equalizer when they were awarded a free kick just outside of the box but Bustos’ direct shot was blocked by a Sacramento player and Vancouver had to settle for a 1-0 deficit going into halftime.

The equalizer came on 67 minutes when substitute Victor Blasco made a beautiful turn along the left flank then cut right into the middle before feeding an attacking Bustos inside the box for the Winnipeg native’s fifth goal in as many matches.

Sacramento would respond just after four minutes when Emrah Klimenta found space on the right byline then located Braun in front of the net who slotted in the ball on his first touch to make the score 2-1 in favour of the visitors.

Tornaghi kept the ‘Caps within striking distance when he made a diving save against a breaking Mark Sherrod, but WFC2 ran out of chances late. The loss ends the playoff hopes for Whitecaps FC 2, who have shown consistent improvement and development on the pitch throughout the year.

Whitecaps FC 2 are back in action for their penultimate match of the season when they host Orange County Blues BC next Sunday, September 13 at Thunderbird Stadium.

NEWS AND NOTES: A handful of Vancouver Whitecaps FC players were on hand to cheer on WFC2, including Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, and Kekuta Manneh… Whitecaps FC Residency product Thomas Gardner made his USL debut, coming on as a 78th-minute substitute. The North Vancouver native was signed by WFC2 last month.

Attendance: 1,294

Scoring Summary
29′ – SAC – Justin Braun (Tommy Thompson)
66′ – VAN – Marco Bustos (Victor Blasco)
71′ – SAC – Justin Braun (Emrah Klimenta)

Shots: VAN 6 – SAC 10
Saves: VAN 4 – SAC 1
Fouls: VAN 13 – SAC 15
Corners: VAN 2 – SAC 4

38′ – SAC – Michael Daly
52′ – SAC – James Kiffe
59′ – SAC – Agustin Cazarez

Whitecaps FC 2
70.Paolo Tornaghi; 50.Sahil Sandhu, 41.Jackson Farmer, 54.Craig Nitti, 62.Deklan Wynne; 58.Will Seymore, 45.Tyler Rosenlund © (64.Thomas Gardner 78′); 25.Andre Lewis, 32.Marco Bustos, 42.Jordan Haynes (48.Victor Blasco 56′); 34.Caleb Clarke

Substitutes not used
24.Marco Carducci, 47.Jovan Blagojevic, 49.Mackenzie Pridham, 51.Billy Schuler, 56.Ian Christianson

Sacramento Republic FC
1.Dominik Jakubek; 20.James Kiffe, 12.Nemanja Vukovic, 21.Michael Daly, 23.Emrah Klimenta; 5.Danny Barrera, 6.Agustin Cazarez, 16.Tommy Thompson (9.Gabe Gissie 74′); 8.Rodrigo Lopez, 17.Justin Braun ©, 10.Thomas Stewart (22.Mark Sherrod 56′)

Substitutes not used
2.Derek Foran, 11.Max Alvarez, 13.Adnan Gabeljic, 14.Cameron Iwasa, 25.Joaquin Rivas