The boys in Old Glory Red took one step closer towards solidifying a place in the postseason after Republic FC earned a point against Reno 1868 FC on Saturday night at Papa Murphy’s Park following a 3-3 back and forth bout.
The match saw both sides seize an early lead after Reno scored in the second minute, but Mark Briggs’ men were quick to equalize minutes just minutes later by way of Sam Werner. Dariusz Formella put SRFC in front 2-1 midway through the first half before 1868 FC leveled the match in the 67th minute. But the fireworks were far from finished as Jaime Villarreal lifted Sacramento to a 3-2 advantage in the 73rd minute before Reno netted in extra time to ensure both Group A clubs would share the spoils.
The Indomitable Club was hoping to snag a third straight win over its regional rival, but the result did help SRFC inch closer towards securing a trip to 2020 USL Championship playoffs. But before the squad starts looking ahead to Tacoma Defiance on Saturday, it’s time to reflect on three positives from Saturday night’s performance.
Sam Werner scored his first goal this season in the 5th minute of Saturday's match.
If Republic FC secure one point this Saturday night – or one point in any of its four remaining fixtures this season for that matter – the Indomitable Club will be headed to the postseason.
Technically, Tacoma Defiance is still mathematically in contention for a playoff spot, but the Pacific Northwest club will need to win its final six straight matches and see Sacramento lose its remaining four. But one draw in just one of SRFC’s final four games will ensure Republic FC is postseason bound and Defiance will officially be eliminated.
However, Sacramento might secure its playoff spot midweek without even taking the pitch as Tacoma travels to first place Reno 1868 FC on Wednesday night. Defiance was most recently downed by Reno 2-1 on August 8 earlier this season in Nevada and Tacoma opened the 2020 campaign with a 3-1 loss at home to 1868 FC on March 6.
Tacoma must win on Wednesday to stay alive in the playoff hunt and if Defiance does indeed defeat Reno then the Pacific Northwest club will surely be stepping into Saturday night’s showdown in Sacramento with a do-or-die approach to the match and a playoff-like intensity will be glaringly apparent.
Belmar set up his sides' first two goals on the night and recorded a team-high four scoring chances created vs. Reno
For the first time in his Sacramento career, Khlarton Belmar bagged a pair of assists and elevated his tally on the 2020 campaign up to a team-best four.
It didn’t take long for the potent attacker to make an impact in the match after Drew Skundrich played Belmar into space, the striker surged forward and delivered a perfectly placed cross that Sam Werner steered home with a header to level the match at 1-1 in the 5th minute. In the 32nd minute, it was Belmar again who held up the ball under pressure before sending it out wide to Dariusz Formella in space who did the rest by barreling towards goal and sending his shot towards the far corner and into net.
His two assists aside, Belmar was much more active than just helping to set up two of his sides’ sensational goalscoring moments. Belmar was hungry to bag his first career goal in an Old Glory Red kit as his three shots were tied for second-most on the team alongside Villyan Bijev. His four scoring chances created against Reno were indeed the most for Mark Briggs’ men on Saturday. Belmar was also credited with three crosses – second-most on the squad – and his 27 total passes in the opponent’s half was tied for the most by a Sacramento player alongside Matt Mahoney and Drew Skundrich.
Jaime Villarreal netted SRFC's third goal on the night to lift the Indomitable Club to a 3-2 lead.
Over the last eight consecutive regular season fixtures, Mark Briggs’ men have been indomitable.
In eight straight games, Republic FC has racked up six wins and two draws – collecting a total of 20 points en route to the Indomitable Club’s playoff push in hopes of securing a seventh appearance since the club’s inception.
During the current streak, the squad collected three clean sheets and surrendered just seven goals – less than an average of goal allowed per game. Offensively, Mark Briggs’ men have been creating plenty of chances and most recently racked up 19 shots in back-to-back matches. The Indomitable Club has now scored multiple goals in five straight fixtures (12 goals during the five-game run).
It’s been an impressive streak, but not the longest in club history. In 2018, the squad had an eight-game run before the postseason and in 2016, Republic FC were undefeated in nine consecutive USL Championship regular season fixtures. Sacramento hit double digits in 2014 when the team were unbeaten in 10 from July 7 to September 4 but the all-time record in SRFC for longest unbeaten run is 11 in 2016 from July 30 to September 24.
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