Dominik Jakubek was supposed to be an insurance policy Republic FC didn’t expect to have to cash in on this season.
The first-year USL Pro team’s oldest player at age 34, Jakubek wasn’t expected to see much action since he was signed to back up Portland Timbers goalkeeper Jake Gleeson, one of the team’s stars.
Major League Soccer teams don’t loan players to a minor-league club to ride the bench, especially a player as talented and promising as the 6-foot-5 Gleeson. But the New Zealand native has been in and out of the lineup because of a groin injury.
So Jakubek has had the lion’s share of the time in the net this season, including Wednesday night’s impressive 6-0 win against Fresno Fuego in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup in front of 1,523 at Cosumnes River College.
Jakubek capped the one-sided win by making two saves on the same penalty kick by Jose Cuevas after Republic FC’s Ivan Mirkovic was red-carded for taking him down in the box in the 90th minute.
A couple of minutes later, Jakubek was serenaded by Republic FC’s Tower Bridge Battalion rooting section while he rushed over and and signed autographs.
“We definitely needed that shutout,” said Jakubek, who had four saves. “You want to win 6-0, not 6-1.”
Republic FC advanced to face the MLS’ Earthquakes on June 11 at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco.
Republic FC has won its last six matches, and Jakubek has three shutouts this season.
While he surrendered a couple of easy goals earlier in the season, Jakubek is clearly finding his footing.
“I was trying too hard,” he said. “But now with the help of the coaching staff, I’m slowing the game down, letting the game come to me.”
Jakubek helped his team hold the dangerous Rochester Rhinos scoreless in a 1-0 win Friday, then had four saves in a 2-1 victory over the Dayton Dutch Lions on Sunday. The Dayton goal came on a penalty kick that Jakubek almost blocked.
Those two performances earned Jakubek the goalie spot on the USL Pro Team of the Week this week. He joined teammate Thomas Stewart, who had the winning goal against Rochester.
Jakubek has played in nine of Republic FC’s 12 matches, including two in U.S. Open Cup play, and is 6-2-0. In USL Pro play he has an 0.89 goals- against average and 14 saves.
“We never expected Dominik to play as much as he has, but we’ve had to call on him quite a few times,” said Republic FC coach Preki before the match (he was suspended and not present). “There are moments when he has done pretty good, and there are moments when he can do better.”
Jakubek has Northern California roots. He grew up in Lodi, played at San Joaquin Delta College, Sonoma State and Chico State, where he was an All-American and a teammate of U.S. National Team player Chris Wondolowski on a D-II national championship runner-up team.
He’s played indoor and outdoors with several teams and was a field player with a pro team in Poland for a couple of seasons. He spent part of the 2006 season with the Columbus Crew, though he did not see action.
He’s also hugely upbeat and positive and quick to praise his talented teammates, especially those playing in front of him.
“My defense has been unbelievable,” Jakubek said of defenders Mickey Daly, Harrison Delbridge, Nemanja Vukovic and Emrah Klimenta. “We don’t give up two many shots. But I know against San Jose there will be a lot of work.”
Editor's note: This story has updated to clarify Jakubek's college sports career.