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Insiders Look into the 2021 Boys in Old Glory Red: Goalkeepers

By William Strome, 02/08/21, 11:00AM PST

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Rafael Diaz and Tomas Gomez are both experienced and reliable options to protect the net for Mark Briggs’ men in 2021

Not every USL Championship club has the luxury of being able to count on two proven and sure-handed shot-stoppers to summon into the starting eleven. But the boys in Old Glory Red do. 

"Rafa stepped up in a big way last year, and really grabbed that spot with both hands," Republic FC General Manager Todd Dunivant said on The Breakaway. 

"He's been biding his time for a while and when the opportunity came, Rafa took it. I don't know if people realize how big of a deal his national team gig was, but Dominican Republic playing a top European team like he did, posting a shutout, that's a big deal. And his confidence is flying high and he's only going to get better. So that's huge for Rafa."

"And to bring in Tomas, another proven No. 1 goalkeeper in this league, somebody who's won Golden Glove a couple times, he's had a ton of success. We feel really good abut our two goalkeepers and it's a great place to start," Dunivant added about SRFC's recent signing. 

Goalkeepers Rafael Diaz and Tomas Gomez are set to handle Republic FC’s net minding duties for the 2021 campaign. 

Rafael Diaz

No. 18
Age: 29

Once Rafa stepped into the starting goalkeeper role in 2020, he never once let the opportunity slip through his grip. 

His USL performances caught the eye of the head coach of the Dominican Republic Men’s National Team and earned Diaz a well-deserved call-up. Diaz earned his national team debut in a historic match against Serbia on January 25.

Diaz dazzled and not only kept a clean sheet against FIFA’s 29th ranked team in the world but he was also named the Man of the Match. 

The honor to represent his home country was all possible complements of Rafa’s rock-solid 2020 campaign.

During Diaz’s superb season, the goalkeeper kept a 320-minute consecutive scoreless streak – just 15 minutes shy of the Indomitable Club record. He also earned a pair of USL Championship Fans’ Choice Save of the Week selections for Weeks 8 and 12 and found his name on the USL Championship Team of the Week selection for Week 15 after an eight-save outing.

Diaz closed out the regular season campaign with a 7-0-3 record in net and will be looking to keep the momentum going into the 2021 campaign which will be his fourth season with Sacramento. 

Tomas Gomez

No. 27
Age: 27

Since he joined the league in 2016, Tomas Gomez has been one of the USL Championship’s most consistent goalkeepers. 

Gomez joined Republic FC on January 8 and prior to signing with Sacramento, the GK proved himself as a leader and reliable option to man the net in each of the three USL cities he’s previously played in – and he has two coveted annual league-wide honors to his name to show for it. 

During a shortened 2020, Gomez still started eight league matches and recorded three clean sheets for a playoff-bound Pittsburgh team. But before his lone season in the Steel City, Gomez strapped on the goalie gloves for 42 starts across all competitions over two seasons with Saint Louis FC. 

It was during a 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup run with Saint Louis where Gomez helped to guide his club into the Quarterfinals after downing MLS-side FC Cincinnati. 

In the years before Gomez found his way to the Midwest, the Mexican-born GK was the number one option for the Rochester Rhinos in 2016 and 2017 where he won the league’s Gold Glove award consecutively. In back-to-back USL campaigns, Gomez had the lowest goals against average of any league-wide shot-stopper. 

To his name, Gomez has 87 career appearances during Championship play, recorded over 200 saves and racked up 35 clean sheets. 

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