Republic FC’s preseason training camp is well under way and Wednesday morning will be the first test of the 2020 season.
And it’s a massive one.
The boys in Old Glory Red visit the 2019 MLS Cup Champions Seattle Sounders FC for a closed-door exhibition friendly in the Pacific Northwest. But Mark Briggs’ men won’t be intimidated against a top tier opposition, after all, these two West Coast clubs have clashed before.
The Indomitable Club previously played Seattle Sounders FC in the Fourth Round of the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with SRFC upsetting the MLS-side with a 2-1 win after extra time. Republic FC forward Cameron Iwasa opened the scoring before a 90thminute strike from Seattle meant an additional half hour of play would be needed to break the deadlock. Republic FC did so, in the 115thwith Jure Matjasic playing the role of hero with the winning strike.
SRFC Midfielder Villyan Bijev during the 2018 U.S. Open Cup match against Sounders FC.
Republic FC has one player very familiar with Seattle as defender Jordan McCrary played for Sounders FC in 2018 and made 20 appearances for the Pacific Northwest club across all competitions.
Before the Indomitable Club takes the pitch against the reigning champions from the nation’s top division, let’s have a look at the upcoming opposition.
The Rave Green have a big year ahead of them.
Before their first MLS match on March 1, Seattle has Concacaf Champions League duty to tend to. Sounders FC will visit Hondoras’s most decorated club, C.D. Olimpia on February 20 for Leg One of the Round of 16 showdown.
The Concacaf Champions League is a prestigious competition, and it’s one of potentially five competitions Seattle will compete in during the 2020 season. Sounders FC have the MLS regular season and Concacaf Champions League on the horizon with the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup a few months away.
SRFC starting XI for the 2018 2-1 win over Seattle in Sacramento.
Obviously, Sounders FC is hoping to repeat a title-winning campaign and compete in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, but the club also has the honor of competing in the Campeones Cup which is an annual North American match played between the MLS Cup champion and the winner of the Campeon de Campeones from Liga MX. The championship match will be against Club America and played at CenturyLink Field, Sounders FC’s home turf.
With the variety of competitions ahead of them in 2020, the two-time MLS Cup Champions have a solid core of players that can handle the busy campaign. Anchoring that core is the club’s newly signed Designated Player, 28-year-old Brazilian midfielder João Paulo from Botafogo in his home country. Paulo is expected to make an immediate impact given fellow DP Nicolas Lodeiro is receiving treatment for tendinitis in Uruguay.
This will be the second time since 2018 the two west coast clubs clashed.
But the most notable name on the Seattle roster is U.S. Men’s National Team coveted young forward, Jordan Morris. The striker, who played collegiately at Stanford with Republic FC players Drew Skundrich, Sam Werner and Tomas Hilliard-Arce, skipped his senior season to go pro and received the league’s highest-ever Homegrown Player contract in 2016. In his Sounders FC career, Morris has 25 career goals in MLS play.
Seattle has plenty of promising young talent, but there are a handful of crafty veterans who offer plenty of experience and locker room leadership. Manning the goal is 33-year-old Stefan Frei who has been a reliable shot stopper since he joined the club in 2014. Forward Raul Ruidiaz is a 29-year-old Peruvian goal scorer who led Sounders in scores the last two seasons and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. In the midfield, Cristian Roldan has matured into a regular starter and has been previously called up to the U.S. Men’s National Team.
Want to catch some of the action? The friendly isn’t being televised but fans can catch live updates and coverage on Twitter by following @SacRepublicFC.
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