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Three Takeaways from #SDvSAC

By William Strome, 08/03/20, 10:00AM PDT

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After SRFC earned a point away from home following its first-ever visit to San Diego, there were plenty of positives to reflect on including a stellar first start of the season for Diaz, defensive dominance from the backline and carving out chances clearly not a problem for the offense.

The boys in Old Glory Red returned from their first match against the USL Championship’s newest club San Diego Loyal SC with one point after holding the hosts to a scoreless draw on Saturday night. 

Mark Briggs’ men had no trouble keeping the San Diego backline busy, but the Indomitable Club just couldn’t quite find a breakthrough against the Group B leaders. The result kept Republic FC in second place in the Group A standings with six points from five matches – three points behind Reno 1868 FC. 

A win in Portland against Timbers 2 this coming Saturday night could propel SRFC back to the top of the group but before the week of prep begins for the trip to T2, it’s time to look back on the notable takeaways from Sacramento’s draw with San Diego. 

Rafa a Rock in First Start this Season

After getting the nod to start between the sticks for the first time in 2020, Rafael Diaz put forth an extremely positive effort. 

The Republic FC goalkeeper registered two saves on the night and none more massive than his stellar stop in the 45th minute to deny Jack Metcalf an opening goal. The Loyal SC defender’s close-range shot took a tricky deflection, but Diaz was quick to react and brush the ball aside with a powerful swat to maintain the 0-0 score line. 

Diaz notched his first clean sheet of the season and third of his Republic FC career during regular season play. The former NY Red Bulls GK also recorded a shutout during the Indomitable Club’s 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup run after blanking regional rivals Reno 1868 FC 1-0 in the Second Round of the annual competition. 

The shutout was the second of the season for Mark Briggs’ men after SRFC kept a clean sheet against Reno at home on July 19, 1-0. 

Brilliant Backline Holds Group Leaders Scoreless

Republic FC were hoping to travel home with all three points but to hold a side scoreless that currently sits atop arguably the most competitive group in the league is extremely impressive. 

Group A leaders San Diego Loyal SC might be the newcomers, but through a handful of fixtures this season, head coach Landon Donovan’s side are above established and successful clubs like Phoenix Risings FC, LA Galaxy II and Orange County SC. Loyal SC even upset 2019 title-winners Real Monarchs in Utah, but the expansion side wasn’t able to break through a sturdy SRFC back four. 

Directly in front of Diaz was the center back pairing on Hayden Sargis and Tomas Hilliard-Arce – the fourth consecutive time the duo played alongside one another. Sargis had a team-high three clearances and was second on the squad with four interceptions while Hilliard-Arce registered three interceptions and silenced the attacking threat of SD’s Ben Spencer and Tumi Moshobane. 

Republic FC’s full backs were a force for the full 90 minutes on both ends of the field as a tireless Jordan McCrary lead his side in tackles (5), interceptions (8), possession gained (11), total passes (41), touches (76) and added to the attack with two key passes. Left back Ashkanov Apollon also created one scoring chance and compiled three interceptions on the encounter. 

SRFC Creating Many More Offensive Opportunities than Opponents

For the fifth straight game, Republic FC created double digit scoring opportunities and for the fourth time in five fixtures, the team carved out more than twice as many scoring chances as it’s opponent. 

The Indomitable Club collected a total 11 chances compared to San Diego’s four. On the 2020 USL Championship regular season, SRFC has created 64 scoring chances while its opponent has only created 23. Even though the squad has not found the back of the net in two matches, the offense very much feels like a steaming volcano, ready to erupt and wreak havoc at any moment. 

On the year, four boys in Old Glory Red have racked up seven or more scoring chances on the season – Rodrigo Lopez (10, tied for 5thmost in Western Conference), Sam Werner (8), Cameron Iwasa (7), and Dariusz Formella (7). Republic FC is one of only four clubs in the entire USL Championship that have four players with seven or more scoring chances created along with Phoenix Rising FC, Indy Eleven, and Rio Grande Valley FC Toros. 

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