Republic FC lost its bid to finish atop the Western Conference by playing to a 0-0 draw against the Orange County Blues FC on Tuesday night in a USL regular-season finale in Irvine.
With the tie, the OC Blues (14-9-5, 47 points) earn the top seed in the Western Conference, tying for first place with the OKC Energy FC. Both teams earn first-round playoff byes, but the Blues FC get the top seed on head-to-head results.
Republic FC (13-8-7, 46 points), which finished fourth, will play the fifth-place LA Galaxy II in a playoff opener Saturday at Bonney Field.
Tuesday’s match at UC Irvine’s Anteater Stadium mostly was a defensive battle. Both sides combined for 32 fouls and eight yellow cards.
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Republic FC’s best attempt came in the 78th minute when an OC Blues player misplayed a ball backward to forward Mark Sherrod that left him one-on-one with goalkeeper Pepe Miranda. But Sherrod’s shot at the top of the box went right to Miranda.
Sacramento managed only eight shots, two on goal, even as coach Paul Buckle subbed in forwards Gabe Gissie, Cameron Iwasa and Joaquin Rivas in the second half to try to create more chances.
It was the second match in a row in which the defending USL champions couldn’t find the net. Sacramento played to a 0-0 draw despite a team-record 24 shots against the Arizona United SC on Saturday at Bonney Field.
The OC Blues have been one of the USL’s biggest surprises behind first-year coach Oliver Wyss. The Blues finished second-to-last in 2014, and there was talk that the club might disband.