SACRAMENTO, California (February 15, 2020)– Republic FC hosted its first friendly of the 2020 preseason campaign this afternoon against last season’s regular season USL Champions Western Conference runners-up, Reno 1868 FC at Cosumnes River College in a 120-minute exhibition match.
The boys in Old Glory Red held the visitor scoreless for the entire contest and snatched a late winner by way of midfielder Villyan Bijev. Republic FC pounced on a turnover in Reno’s defensive half and once Bijev had the ball at his boot, all the Bulgarian-born winger had to do was steer his shot towards the far post to lift his side to a 1-0 lead.
SRFC defender Jordan McCrary was a formidable force at right back on Saturday afternoon.
Goalkeepers Rafael Diaz and Adam Grinwis were called upon a few times but the combination of both netminders’ stellar play preserved the shutout against a club that has a handful of established goal scorers including Corey Hertzog and Foster Langsdorf.
“I thought it was a really worthwhile exercise,” Republic FC Head Coach Mark Briggs said. “I think the preseason games that we’ve had so far, teams have put us in uncomfortable positions. Ian’s done a fantastic job at Reno and we’re getting put in uncomfortable positions that we’ll be put in when we open up against Tulsa on day one and for the rest of the USL season.”
The preseason win in the Donner Pass Derby was an added bonus because the real takeaway from the game was that each player recorded quality minutes against a top tier Western Conference opposition. That included another half dozen Republic FC Academy players and first team trialists who looked quite comfortable lining up against a squad of polished veterans.
SRFC midfielder Villyan Bijev scored the game's lone goal against Reno 1868 FC at Cosumnes River College.
“It’s good from a club perspective for the academy players to see what’s being taught to the first team, what standards the first team players have, to hear the methodology that’s coming from me because then it’s a trickledown effect and the rest of the club starts to hear the same messaging,” Coach Briggs said following the match.
When asked by a reporter about if he’s impressed with the talent level of the academy players, his response was swift and simple.
“Very,” Coach Briggs said.
“I think there’s an awful lot of talent here to be honest, which is why I originally came [to the club] as the Academy Director,” he explained. “Now it’s about utilizing that talent and giving that talent an opportunity to represent the first team.”
SRFC midfielder Sam Werner will be entering his second year with the Indomitable Club.
Specifically, a trio of young stars including Mason Pahule, Esteban Garcia and Giovanni Ceja earned plenty of priceless minutes with the first team for the first time this season.
Joining them from the academy ranks was Aris Yang, Julian Chavez, and recently signed to the first team, Hayden Sargis, who each logged minutes against Reno and also 2019 MLS Cup Champions Seattle Sounders FC a little over a week ago. Newly signed first teamer Mario Penagos also recorded some pivotal minutes against SRFC’s regional rival during this afternoon’s physical affair.
“It was great to get another 60 minutes under our belts,” Coach Briggs said following the match. “For everybody. For first team players, for academy players, for everybody. So, it was a pleasing outing.”
Sacramento Republic FC 1-0 Reno 1868 FC
Cosumnes River College, Sacramento, California
February 15, 2020
Scoring Summary:SAC – Villyan Bijev 104’
Sacramento Republic FC starting XI– Rafael Diaz; Aris Yang (academy player), Matt Mahoney, Hayden Sargis, Ashkanov Apollon; Jaime Villarreal, Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu, Mason Pahule (academy player), Julian Chavez (academy player), Kharlton Belmar; Cameron Iwasa.
Sacramento Republic FC third period XI– Adam Grinwis; Jordan McCrary, Dekel Keinan, Ciaron Jones (trialist), Giovanni Ceja (academy player); Villyan Bijev, Sam Werner, Adam Mickleson (trialist), Drew Skundrich, Esteban Garcia (academy player); Darek Formella.
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