Republic FC (7-1-6, 27 pts) are a lock for the 2020 USL Championship playoffs but the squad is still in search of trying to capture the top spot in Group A.
Mark Briggs’ men can still snag first place if the Indomitable Club can claim victories against Tacoma Defiance on Wednesday and Portland Timbers 2 on Saturday. But the team does need a little help from Las Vegas Lights FC and Tacoma to ensure Reno 1868 FC does not collect a single point over its last two matches. If Sacramento wins out and Reno loses twice this week then the boys in Old Glory Red will solidify first place in the group and take on the runner-up from Group B.
Midfielder Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu was back in the squad since returning from injury while defender Dekel Keinan's second half strike was his first career goal with the Indomitable Club.
Republic FC’s most recent match was a 1-1 draw on Saturday night in Nevada against Reno 1868 FC where the hosts managed to grab a 1-0 lead late in the first half, but it did not take long for Sacramento to respond in the second half when defender Dekel Keinan steered home a header to equalize in the 51stminute. Fellow defender Juan Barahona rifled in a dangerous cross from a corner kick that met the experienced CB as he leapt above the opposition and guided his effort into the top corner for his first career goal for Sacramento.
The result was the Indomitable Club’s tenth straight match without a loss which is now tied for the second longest undefeated streak in club history. Mark Briggs’ men are just one win or draw away from tying the club’s all-time record of 11 straight games unbeaten – a feat that was set during the 2016 campaign.
Tacoma Defiance (3-9-2, 11 pts) were hoping for a late-season surge into the playoffs but the Pacific Northwest club was eliminated from postseason contention following a September 17 3-2 loss in Reno at the hands of 1868 FC.
On Sunday, Defiance downed Portland Timbers 2 at home – 2-1 – bringing an end to an eight-game run without a victory. Tacoma took an early lead against its regional rival when Ethan Dobbelaere lifted his side to a 1-0 advantage in the first half. With just five minutes remaining in the fixture, Azriel Gonzalez grabbed his second goal this season to double Defiance’s lead but managed to net an own goal of his own just two minutes later to gift T2 its lone goal of the game.
The young and hungry Tacoma team are still looking to impress the coaches in hopes of a call-up to its MLS-side, so despite not being able to look forward to a playoff run in 2020, Defiance still has players fighting for something and hungry to play the spoiler against a strong Sacramento side. Over Tacoma’s last four fixtures, the club has bagged eight goals – an average of two scores per game.
Villyan Bijev, Kharlton Belmar and Rodrigo Lopez found the back of the net last time out against Defiance.
The last time these two clubs clashed the match ended in a six-goal thriller with Rodrigo Lopez netting a late leveler in the 90th minute to seal a 3-3 final score in Sacramento on September 20.
Of the three fixtures between the boys in Old Glory Red and Defiance this campaign, two matches have ended in a 3-3 draw while the other was a 3-1 victory in favor of Republic FC. On the season series this year, SRFC forward Dariusz Formella has scored four goals against the Pacific Northwest club.
Formella bagged a brace in back-to-back matches against Tacoma earlier this season.
Wednesday’s meeting will be the fourth and final team these Group A opponents play against one another in 2020 but it will be the Indomitable Club’s first trip to Washington this season. The last time Republic FC traveled to Tacoma was on April 1, 2019 – a match that ended 2-1 in favor of the hosts who fielded a number of players from its MLS-side, Seattle Sounders FC. Sacramento has not lost to Defiance since that meeting and is unbeaten in its last four straight fixtures against Tacoma while finding the back of the net three times in all four contests.
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