SAN JOSE, Calif. - After 120 minutes of soccer and eight rounds of penalty kicks, the Earthquakes celebrated an exhaustive but intensely satisfying win over the Sacramento Republic FC Tuesday night in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
In cup events it’s not about style points – it’s about moving on.
The Quakes did just that, rallying from a 2-0 deficit to upend their affiliate side on Chris Wondolowski goals in the 74th and 79th minutes and heroic stops by goalkeeper Bryan Meredith in a 6-5 sudden-death shootout win.
- HIGHLIGHTS: Quakes vs. Sacramento
Tommy Thompson delivered a clutch penalty in the fifth round, which was followed by a Meredith save, to force sudden-death PKs. Quakes players JJ Koval, Leandro Barrera and Shaun Francis followed with conversions to clinch the win.
How big was Meredith in PKs? Think Paul Bunyan, minus Babe the Blue Ox.
"He was amazing,” forward Mark Sherrod said. “Him and Wondo were for sure the heroes of the game today. You save one PK in a PK shootout, you're already a hero. You save two; they're building statues of you.”
Wondolowski and Victor Bernardez, with a massive dead-on clout, also converted in PKs.
Quakes coach Dominic Kinnear described Sacramento as a “good team” that played a “good game,” and he liked the “fight” of his team to get back into it. The Republic led 2-0 on goals by Rodrigo Lopez, on a disputed penalty kick in the sixth minute, and Emrah Klimenta in the 54th minute on a Lopez assist.
“They came out ready,” Kinnear said of the Republic’s fast start. “We did not come out with the right amount of attitude. So give credit. I knew it was going to happen. These games are always that way. Sometimes it’s not who plays the best soccer, but who fights the hardest.”
Filling for regular starter David Bingham, Meredith made the most of his opportunity in the shootout after making a big stop in the 100th minute during overtime.
“I thought he had a real good preseason,” Kinnear said of Meredith, who made five saves. “I just said, ‘Look, the Open Cup is yours. The farther we go on, the more you’re gonna get to play.’ I’m glad we’re gonna get another game for him. He played real good, first night. He had some real good saves.”
The young Thompson, who played the final 75 minutes of the match, only returned Monday afternoon after competing on Sunday in the Under-20 FIFA World Cup in New Zealand. He played 105 minutes of the U.S. team’s 6-5 loss in penalties to Serbia in the semifinals, but he wasn't about to take Tuesday off.
That’s not how Thompson rolls.
“When I saw we were playing Sac. Republic, of course I’m gonna want to play against my hometown team,” Thompson said. “It’s a fun game for us playing in the Open Cup, so I wanted to be a part of it regardless of my travel situation.”
Moreover, Thompson relished getting to participate in the shootout, after not getting the chance in New Zealand.
“Actually, that’s what I was thinking,” he said. “Getting pulled off in the 105th was tough when we ended up losing in the PKs, so I wanted to avenge our loss, and we did that successfully.”
Kinnear said Thompson called him on Monday afternoon, saying he felt really good. The coach told him to sleep on it, fearing Thompson might hit the travel wall.
“He woke up (Tuesday) morning and said he felt great and was really wanting to get involved,” Kinnear said. “It was an easy decision to make (to put him into the game).”
Mike Fucito, who played on loan last season with the Republic, sparked the Quakes during 52 minutes of action off the bench. He took three shots, two on goal. His shot off of a Bernardez cross in the 74th minute was saved by goalkeeper Patrick McLain, but the rebound was put in by Wondolowski.
On the tying goal, Marvell Wynne beat his defender down the line and curled a cross into the box. Wondolowski raced to the near post and headed the ball far post, beating McLain again. Since May 1, Wondolowski has scored seven goals in eight games in all competitions.
Meredith made a big save in the 83rd minute to keep the match tied. Justin Braun created space in the box and ripped a low shot, but Meredith lunged to his left and cleared the ball away.
In overtime, Sacramento forward Adnan Gabeljic ripped a shot from the edge of the penalty area, but Meredith dived to his left and punched the ball out.