Zeiko Lewis and Sacramento Republic make history in reaching US Open Cup final
Sacramento Republic, whose team features Bermuda forward Zeko Lewis, made history after reaching the final of the prestigious Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
The USL Championship side upset visiting Sporting Kansas City, of Major League Soccer, 5-4 on penalties in a thrilling semi-final on their own patch at Heart Health Park last Wednesday.
Sacramento goalkeeper Danny Vitiello made a vital save to deny Graham Zusi from 12 yards before Rodrigo Lopez converted the winner to seal the deal.
The USL Championship western conference side are the first team from outside Major League Soccer team to reach the final of the competition since Lewis’s former team Charleston Battery in 2008.
“The boys gave everything and we rode our luck at times, which you have to do against MLS sides,” Mark Briggs, the Sacramento head coach, told ussoccer.com.
Goalkeeper Vitiello made eight saves in the match, including two crucial ones in the second period of extra time to keep his team in the hunt.
“It’s unreal and just happy to get the win,” he said. “It just speaks about this group and what we want to achieve.”
Lewis, who was not included in Briggs’s squad for the semi-final but featured throughout the earlier rounds, took to social media to express his delight.
“What a team, what a run and we are not done yet,” he posted on his Twitter account.
Sacramento will face another MLS side, Orlando City, in the final at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida, on September 7.
Meanwhile, Lewis marked his return to Sacramento’s squad by netting his second goal of the season to guide the visitors to a 4-2 come-from-behind win over former club Charleston in the USL Championship at the weekend.
Lewis put Sacramento ahead for good just before the interval at Patriots Point in his first outing against his former club since his move to the West Coast.
He latched on to Luther Archimede’s short pass and beat Battery goalkeeper Hugo Fauroux with a low left-footed shot at near post from the edge of the box.
The visitors were forced to chase the game after Enock Kwakwa broke the deadlock in the fourth minute when he pounced on Alexander Dexter’s cross, which rebounded off a defender in the box.
Emil Cuello cancelled out Charleston’s lead in the sixteenth minute when he headed home Nick Ross’s corner, which deflected off a defender before crossing the goalline.
Luther Archimede put Sacramento in front in the 30th minute when he ran on to Cuello’s pass over the top into open space and smashed the ball past the goalkeeper.
However, Augustine Williams brought Charleston back on level terms in the 42nd minute. Geobel Perez’s shot from the top of the box was parried by Sacramento goalkeeper Carlos Saldaña and Williams pounced on the loose ball from a tight angle.
Lewis converted two minutes later with what ultimately proved to be the winner before Matt LaGrassa added another three minutes after the restart to put the game beyond Charleston’s reach.
The triumph was Sacramento’s first in the league since edging hosts Monterey Bay 2-1 on June 25.