Republic FC, coming off an impressive performance against the Earthquakes, returns to USL Pro action tonight at 5 p.m. at OKC Energy FC.
Like Republic FC (6-3-2), OKC Energy FC (3-7-2) is an expansion team in the 14-team third division USL Pro.
Republic FC hopes to avoid what could be a “trap” game after playing well in a 2-1 loss to San Jose in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco.
Republic FC outplayed its Major League Soccer partners with an advantage in shots, possession and panache.
Republic FC excelled even with starters Mickey Daly, Carlos Martinez, Jake Gleeson and leading scorer Thomas Stewart sidelined with injuries. Starting midfielders Ivan Mirkovic (red-card suspension) and George Fochive (a Portland Timbers loanee not allowed to play in the Open Cup) also were out.
“San Jose is a tough team and our partner, but we made it difficult for them and played our style of football,” Republic FC coachPreki said. “It was incredibly positive for us. We are a young team, a team that has been together barely three months, and for us to come here and show this well is an incredible bonus.”
Republic FC is tied for fourth place in USL Pro, while OKC Energy FC is in a four-way tie for ninth.
Energy FC had lost six matches in a row until beating the New York Red Bulls Reserves 1-0 on May 31, then drawing with the Wilmington Hammerheads 2-2 on June 6 and with the Charlotte Eagles 1-1 on Saturday. The team has an affiliation with Sporting Kansas City and its coach, Jimmy Nielsen, is a former goalie for the MLS team.
Republic FC is 4-0-1 in its last five USL Pro matches, but its three losses have been to teams with losing league records.
Hot feet – Midfielder Rodrigo Lopez has scored or assisted in five of his last seven matches, and his 12 points (three goals, six assists) is second only to Stewart’s 13 (five goals, three assists).
Lopez and defender Nemanja Vukovic are the only Republic FC players who have participated in all 14 of the team’s matches, including three U.S. Open Cup matches.
Forward Justin Braun has scored goals in his last two appearances, including a header against the Earthquakes. The former MLS player is second in goals with four despite missing five matches with a hamstring injury.
Jahn returns – Earthquakes forward Adam Jahn, the former Jesuit High School standout, is back with Republic FC.
Jahn played in Republic FC’s first two home matches at Hughes Stadium, scoring goals in both, but the second-year pro hadn’t played for the Earthquakes since he was recalled on May 14.