After a season that saw SRFC make a seventh straight trip to the USL Championship playoffs, it’s time to look back on the Top 10 moments from the Indomitable Club in our three-part series.
It felt like it was an entirely separate season when the boys in Old Glory Red hosted FC Tulsa to a packed Papa Murphy’s Park on March 7. One game into the 2020 season, then everything changed. The COVID-19 pandemic put the season on hold until July, forcing the league to shorten the season to a 16-game schedule. It was a season unlike any other, but it also produced some unforgettable memories.
Sacramento’s indomitable spirit was on full display when the boys in Old Glory Red returned to Papa Murphy’s Park on July 13 for the team’s first match back in action following a four-month hiatus.
After only managing to play one match prior to the pandemic putting the USL Championship season on hold, Republic FC hosted Tacoma Defiance in what was the first live professional sporting event in California. The fixture featured no shortage of goals and the visitors even snagged an early lead in the opening minute. Sacramento responded with three unanswered scores spearheaded by Dariusz Formella bagging a brace and Tomas Hilliard-Arce netting his first career goal with the Indomitable Club.
Formella's multi-goal performance vs. Tacoma earned the Polish playmaker his first of three USL Championship Team of the Week selections in 2020.
The match – that did not include fans in attendance – ended 3-3 as both sides shared the spoils, but it kicked off the Indomitable Club’s sprint toward the 2020 playoffs.
The Indomitable Club’s Shannon Gomez was a staple in last year’s squad, but an injury sidelined the speedy defender for the rest of the 2019 season. But on August 22 against Portland Timbers 2 at Papa Murphy’s Park, Gomez returned to the pitch as a second half substitute to help his side earn a 2-1 win.
It was an extremely special moment for the fullback who after the game said “personally, for me it was a memorable game. Being out for so long and coming back and contributing to the team all over again, it's just something spectacular to me and it’s an emotional day for me and hopefully I was an inspiration to somebody else tonight. The team did a great job coming back from behind to win the game and put it in a perfect position for me to come on to field. We're happy to get another win and keep the ball rolling.”
Gomez finished the season with seven appearances under his belt after returning from injury to the squad in August.
Head Coach Mark Briggs also recognized after the match how much tonight meant to his defender after a lengthy rehabilitation process.
“Shannon's been through hell for the past year, and it's a mental challenge when you go through what Shannon has gone through,” Head Coach Mark Briggs said about his right back. “To stay focused and stay strong and still continue to try and see the light at the end of the tunnel, Shannon's done that.”
Just over one week later in Portland, Gomez played a full 90 minutes against T2 en route to a second straight 2-1 win.
When Rafael Diaz stepped into net for the first time this season, his calming presence helped contribute to his side collecting three consecutive clean sheets – spanning 320 minutes of not surrendering a single score.
Rafa also manned the net for SRFC’s Western Conference clash against offensive powerhouse Phoenix Rising FC. His stellar performance between the pipes prevented the Southwestern club from scoring during regulation as Sacramento was the only team in 2020 to hold Phoenix scoreless at home over 90 minutes.
Rafa recorded four clean sheets during the regular season prior to guiding SRFC to its seventh straight trip to the postseason.
The goalkeeper – who guided his side to six straight victories from August 9 to September 10 – was also nominated for a number of Fans’ Choice USL Championship Save of the Week for Week 8 and Week 12. To close out the regular season campaign, Rafa racked up eight saves to ensure all three points were headed to Sacramento following a 4-0 win over Portland Timbers 2 on October 3, earning him a spot on the Week 15 USL Championship Team of the Week.
On July 20 against regional rival Reno 1868 FC, 15-year-old Rafael Jauregui stepped onto the field for the very first time in a USL Championship match making him the youngest in club history to make an appearance during league play.
The youngster entered the match against Reno in the 89th minute to help see through a 1-0 win at home. Over the course of the season, Jauregui logged over 100 minutes of first team action in his debut campaign making a total of five appearances. After signing his USL Academy contract, Rafa was an available selection in 13 of the club's remaining 16 matches including SRFC's Western Conference Quarterfinal fixture.
Sacramento's midfield starlet is the youngest player to appear and start a league match in club history.
Jauregui also became the youngest in SRFC history to start a league match when the Republic FC Academy product was named to the starting eleven for the September 30 fixture against Tacoma Defiance. The midfielder registered 62 minutes on the pitch and ended the contest tied with the most scoring chances created by his side against the Pacific Northwest club with two.
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