May 16, 2014

Republic FC defender’s magnificent goal would be welcomed again tonight

When defenders score goals in soccer, it’s usually on headers off set pieces.

When defenders score goals in soccer, it’s usually on headers off set pieces.

But Republic FC center back Mickey Daly’s back-foot goal to help beat the Los Angeles Galaxy II 3-0 on April 13 in Carson would make even the best forwards envious.

It earned the Sonoma native the USL Pro Goal of the Month in a fan vote, and it’s a feat that Republic FC supporters wouldn’t mind seeing duplicated tonight when LA Galaxy II plays in front of 20,000-plus fans at Hughes Stadium.

The match is the second sellout at Hughes in three league matches for the first-year franchise that is averaging a higher attendance than 10 Major League Soccer teams.

But Daly thinks his goal, one of two for him this season, might be more of a once-in-a-lifetime thing.

“It was pretty crazy,” Daly said.

After Max Alvarez’s corner kick was partially cleared, Thomas Stewart headed the ball from the top of the box toward Daly, who was standing among a crowd with his back turned toward the goal from 9 yards out. Daly hit the ball with his heel and flicked it over the head of goalkeeper Brian Rowe into the upper left corner of the net.

“It’s something I’ve messed around with at practice, but I’ve never done it before in a game,” said Daly, whose shot is in the running for USL Pro Goal of the Year. “I kind of had a sense of where to shoot it. Then it was a matter of ‘see what happens.’ ”

Alvarez later scored an impressive goal of his own on a breakaway, and Dakota Collins scored a third goal in handing Galaxy II its only loss in nine matches.

It also was Republic FC’s best performance of the season and came the night after being upset 2-1 by the Orange County Blues FC in Irvine.

“I think as a team we played very well,” Daly said. “Our formations were really good, and coming off what happened the night before, we were really focused.”

Since that win, Republic FC (3-3-1) has lost two of its three USL Pro matches and now trails the second-place Galaxy II (5-1-3) by eight points, albeit having played two fewer matches. Orlando City FC (6-0-3), which moves to the MLS next season, leads with 21 points.

“It’s our biggest match of the season,” said Republic FC midfielder Rodrigo Lopez. “Winning is going to be crucial so we can close that points gap. So far we have done well in our battles with them.”

’Quakes recall – Forward Adam Jahn was called back to the Earthquakes earlier this week, rejoining forward Mike Fucito in San Jose. Both had been on loan to Republic FC.

Fucito, who played in Republic FC’s first three matches before suffering a hamstring injury, saw action for San Jose in last Saturday’s 2-1 victory over FC Dallas. Jahn scored a goal in each of the Republic FC’s last two matches at Hughes Stadium.

The Earthquakes are shorthanded at forward. Chris Wondolowski is with the U.S. national team, and Steven Lenhart (MCL strain) and Alan Gordon (groin strain) aren’t expected to be healthy enough to play in today’s match at the first-place Seattle Sounders.

“We are what we are. We can’t worry about it,” coach Preki said of losing the two MLS players.

Coach Preki said veteran forward Justin Braun is making progress from a right hamstring injury but his playing status remains uncertain. The former Chivas USA and Toronto FC player played in Republic FC’s first four matches and had two goals before being injured in the win over the Galaxy II.

“We’ll see how he develops overnight, see what the trainer tells me about how far he can go as far as whether he starts or comes off the bench,” Preki said. “But those things can change by the hour. We have to wait and see.”

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