Although Friday night’s trip to Phoenix did not yield the desired outcome, it did produce some positives to reflect on as the Republic FC prepare for their weekend bout against LA Galaxy II.
After starting up front against Phoenix Rising FC on Friday night, Cameron Iwasa became Republic FC’s all-time leader in USL appearances with 105, passing Emrah Klimenta. The Sacramento native capped off his historic night with a goal to open the scoring and gift Simon Elliott’s men an early advantage. The goal was Iwasa’s 12th of the season and brings the club’s all-time leading goal scorer up to a tie for 5th place in the USL. The club captain has three goals and one assist over his last four matches.
SRFC held Phoenix's league-leading offense to a single shot on target in the second half.
Against one of the league’s most high octane offenses, the Indomitable Club did a thorough job of containing Phoenix’s attacking arsenal. Republic FC held the hosts to just a single shot on target during the second half and SRFC has been the only team this season to hold Phoenix to under three goals on a famed $1 Beer Night. On Friday home matches, Rising FC have averaged 4.5 goals per game this year and the boys in Old Glory Red held the Arizonan club to less than half of that. Both of Phoenix’s goals were off unfortunate deflections, which may provide some sense of solace to the squad about the result.
Despite the loss, Republic FC is still in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race and a postseason match at Papa Murphy’s Park isn’t entirely out of the question. Sacramento is currently in seventh place with 34 points from 24 games, but the club is only two points adrift from that coveted top four finish and the opportunity to host a playoff game. With 10 games remaining, three of which are against clubs just one or two points above SRFC in the standings, a top-four spot is well within reach.
This is the first season that the USL Championship’s playoff format expanded to include 20 teams (10 from each conference) and the top four seeds from each conference are guaranteed a first-round home playoff game. Teams seeded seven through 10 will be forced to compete in a midweek play-in round with the winners having to travel to the top two seeds for the opening round just days later. The third seed would host the sixth seed, while the fourth would host the fifth, the latter being the matchup that Republic FC is gunning for. Each round is hosted by the higher seed, meaning if SRFC can grab fourth place or better, Sacramento will host a playoff game for the sixth consecutive season.
Republic FC will look to bounce back as they travel to Southern California on Saturday, August 31, to take on archrival LA Galaxy II. Kickoff against the SoCal club is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. PT and the match will be broadcast live on KQCA My58, Estralla TV Sacramento (Spanish) and ESPN+ (digital).
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