The Indomitable Club clinched a spot in the postseason for a seventh straight time, but the squad was dealt a 1-0 loss at the hands of Phoenix Rising FC on Saturday night at Casino Arizona Field.
Mark Briggs’ men earned 30 points over the course of the 16-game campaign, good enough to take second place in Group A and secure a trip to Phoenix in the opening round of the 2020 playoffs. But the Group B winners managed to hold a Sacramento-side scoreless that had previously found the back of the net 20 times over its last nine matches – an average of over two goals per game.
It wasn’t the way Republic FC wanted the campaign to come to a close, but there were still some positives to reflect on following the final match of SRFC’s 2020 season.
Rising FC were 8-1-0 at home this season but that didn’t deter Republic FC from pushing Phoenix deep into extra time in search of securing an upset postseason victory in Arizona.
Sacramento stormed into the home of the club that scored the most goals in the league during the regular season – 43 alongside Reno 1868 FC – and did what no team managed to do in 2020, hold PHX scoreless through 90 minutes during USL Championship action. The last time Rising FC failed to score a goal at home in regulation was the 2019 playoffs when Austin Bold FC took PHX to penalty kicks before the squad from Arizona advanced 8-7 after PKs.
Dariusz Formella had a team-high eight goals in 2020.
In eight trips to Phoenix, Saturday night was the first time that Republic FC was held scoreless against the Western Conference powerhouse.
It was a cruel way for Sacramento’s season to conclude, but a Solomon Asante deflection that the playmaker managed to steer on target was the difference in a hard-fought match that ended with only one team heading to Reno for a Western Conference Semifinal clash next weekend against 1868 FC.
The Asante deflection in the 114th minute sealed the win for the hosts and seized a potential well-deserved clean sheet from a bend-but-didn’t-break defense and their reliable goalkeeper, Rafael Diaz. Rafa did come to the rescue in extra time with a stellar diving stop to keep the hosts off the board in the opening 15 minutes of extra time.
Dekel Keinan's 74 touches were the most by a Republic FC player on Saturday.
But the squad put forth an admirable performance as Dekel Keinan led the team with 13 clearances while Tomas Hilliard-Arce added another six and Jordan McCrary contributed four. Midfielder Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu had no issues doing the dirty work against his former club, leading Sacramento with four tackles and a team-high three blocked shots on top of his three interceptions – second most on the squad on Saturday.
In the all-time series against Rising FC, the Indomitable Club is 6-4-5 against Phoenix and has outscored the offensive juggernaut from Arizona, 16 to 13.
In fact, in 15 meetings with Rising FC the boys in Old Glory Red have only allowed Phoenix – a club that typically thrashes its opponents – to multiple goals scored in one game only three times. In the last six meetings, SRFC has only surrendered four goals against PHX – less than one goal per game against a club that ended the 2020 campaign averaging 2.7 goals per game.
Shannon Gomez recorded one shot, one clearance, one interception and one tackle in 56 minutes against Phoenix on Saturday.
Saturday’s match was the first time the Western Conference clubs clashed in the postseason, it was also the first and only time Sacramento was held scoreless in Phoenix.
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