Republic FC midfielder Jeremy Hall handles the ball during a 1-0 loss to the Swope Park Rangers in the United Soccer League Western Conference semifinal round on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017, in Kansas City, Kan. The loss ends Republic FC’s playoff run and season. Courtesy of Swope Park Rangers
Republic FC midfielder Jeremy Hall handles the ball during a 1-0 loss to the Swope Park Rangers in the United Soccer League Western Conference semifinal round on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017, in Kansas City, Kan. The loss ends Republic FC’s playoff run and season. Courtesy of Swope Park Rangers

Soccer

Republic FC’s underdog playoff run ends with 1-0 loss in USL semifinals

By Michael McGough

mmcgough@sacbee.com

October 28, 2017 05:34 PM

UPDATED October 28, 2017 08:55 PM

After toppling conference No. 1 seed Real Monarchs SLC a week earlier on penalty kicks, Republic FC couldn’t put one in the goal Saturday, losing to the Swope Park Rangers 1-0 in the USL Western Conference semifinals.

The defeat ends Republic FC’s season and underdog playoff run after entering the postseason as the No. 8 seed in the West. Sacramento last won the USL Championship in 2014.

Swope Park scored in the 46th minute, just after halftime, as Kharlton Belmar sent one to the back of the net.

Republic FC had their share of chances. In the 29th minute, forward Sammy Ochoa forced a turnover on a bad pass, but the Rangers defense recovered as he got tripped up on the ball. Villyan Bijev found himself with Sacramento’s best opportunity in the 71st minute after teammate James Kiffe’s deflected cross ended up in front of Bijev, but Bijev missed his shot just wide left.

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Sacramento had several more opportunities in the final 20 minutes, but could not equalize.

The Rangers hosted the game at Children’s Mercy Park, home of Major League Soccer’s Sporting Kansas City in Kansas City, Kan., after initial confusion about the match’s location. For a short while, the semifinal match had been set to move to Sacramento due to problems at Children’s Mercy Victory Field, the Rangers’ normal home venue. The USL’s decision was reversed Tuesday, rerouting the match back to Kansas City.

No. 4 Swope Park will face Oklahoma City Energy FC, which defeated San Antonio FC in Saturday’s other semifinal.