SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Controversy and physicality ruled the end of a crazy, thrilling 2-2 draw between Sacramento Gold FC and CD Aguiluchos USA Saturday at Capital Christian High School.
Josue Araiza and Andrew Robles tallied the goals for Sacramento. Devin Collins and Adan Martinez scored for Aguiluchos.
The first serious chance of the game proved fruitful for Sacramento. After crossing the ball into the box, the Gold put a couple headers to the ball, hitting the crossbar. Araiza pounced on the rebound and headed it home to give Sacramento a 1-0 lead eight minutes into the game.
Aguiluchos came back with a pair of good chances. The Eaglets played the ball across the Gold box, but Simon Rawnsley was unable to get a foot on it. Five minutes later, Jese Prieto got a good head on the ball, though his header was just wide left.
The visitors continued to get good chances midway through the half. Rawnsley got a run at goal in the 24th minute thanks to a through ball from Ross Middlemiss, but Sacramento goalkeeper Max Herrera was able to snuff out the trouble.
In the 35th minute, Middlemiss was able to get his foot on a cross in front of goal. However, Middlemiss missed from the middle.
Just before halftime, an Aguiluchos cross was deflected in front of goal. Center official Brian Ward pointed to the penalty spot and whistled Nicolas Brioso for a handball. Collins was able to convert the penalty and draw Aguiluchos level at 1-1 after 45 minutes of play.
It was the visitors from Oakland who got the second half started early. Middlemiss played Martinez onto goal with a through ball up the middle. Martinez did not miss, giving Aguiluchos a 2-1 lead in the 48th minute.
Only two minutes later, Sacramento was awarded a free kick just outside the box. Danny Mititelu’s free kick was saved by Aguiluchos goalkeeper Jesus Morales, but it wasn’t clean. Robles jumped on the rebound and poked it home to tie the game at 2-2.
Robles nearly gave the Gold back the lead four minutes later. Robles was able to get at the end of a cross and chip Morales. However, the hang time of the chip allowed the defense to be able to clear it off the line.
The next minute, Gabe Padilla made a run through on goal and was brought down in the box. Ward did not whistle for a penalty as Padilla remained down, having to be helped off the field by a trainer.
With Padilla getting looked at on the sidelines, Aguiluchos nearly capitalized in the Sacramento box. A crazy sequence saw a shot from a through ball hit a post, with rebounds being deflected, saved, and striking another post. The Gold was finally able to clear after a few nervous moments.
In the 61st minute, Elliot Chambers came on the field to replace Padilla, who was deemed too injured to continue. During the stoppage of play, Ward suddenly whistled and turned to Rene Piña, showing him a yellow card for dissent, then a red card for a double yellow ejection.
The controversy came from doubt over whether Piña had received a yellow card earlier and was thus eligible for a double yellow ejection in the first place. After about five minutes of confusion and delay, Ward ejected Piña from the field and sent Sacramento down to 10 men.
Despite the trouble, Sacramento got the next best chance at goal. In the 68th minute, Robles played a lob to Cuco Martinez in the middle. Martinez chested the ball for Chambers, whose one-timer was saved by Morales.
As the final 15 minutes arrived, Herrera faced a pair of dangerous chances. After denying Rawnsley in the 75th minute, Herrera was able to make the save on a streaking Middlemiss three minutes later.
Bo Fonseca was able to get a run at goal in the 80th minute, though his shot was straight at Morales.
Like the previous week, Sacramento needed a save in the dying minutes to keep the draw. In the final minutes of stoppage time, Rawnsley played a nice ball to Middlemiss at the top of the box. Middlemiss sent a crafty shot which looked to chip the goalkeeper. However, Herrera managed to get a hand on the ball and tip the shot over the goal.
As the final seconds ticked down, a foul was whistled for after Cuco Martinez and Miguel Santiago went down together. As the two got to their feet, Santiago leaned down, grabbed Martinez by the legs, and tackled him to the ground. This brought together players from both teams and the officials, who separated Martinez and Santiago.
While he was being separated, Santiago got into an argument with Danny Lamelli, getting closer until he head-butted the Sacramento defender. Somehow, Ward decided to not issue Santiago, or anyone else for that matter, a card in an altercation which resulted in a five-minute delay.
The scuffles didn’t stop once the final whistle had been blown. After the game was concluded, Santiago got in the face of Ivan Mursac, head-butting a second Gold player in the last few minutes. As the two teams had to be separated, no cards were issued as all parties eventually cleared the field.
The Gold next heads on a road trip to the Northwest Region for a back-to-back set of games. Sacramento will first travel to Delta Park to face Portland Spartans FC on Saturday, May 16 at 7 p.m. The Gold will then face FC Tacoma 253 on Sunday, May 17 at 4 p.m. at Starfire Sports Center.
LINEUPS/SUBSTITUTIONS: Sacramento Gold FC: G Max Herrera, D Rene Piña (Red Card 62’), Danny Lamelli, Danny Mititelu, Edric Soltero, M Andrew Robles, Nicolas Brioso, Cuco Martinez, Bo Fonseca, F Gabe Padilla (Elliot Chambers 61’), Josue Araiza (Ivan Mursac 86’)
CD Aguiluchos USA: GK Jesus Morales, D Ricardo Guerra, Jesus León, Jese Prieto, Juan Mondragon, M Devin Collins, Miguel Santiago, Hany Helmy (Drew Scatani 66’), Adan Martinez (Matheus Freire 90’), F Ross Middlemiss, Simon Rawnsley