Republic FC midfielder Max Alvarez made a strong bid to earn more playing time this season after his one-goal, two-assist performance on Wednesday in Sacramento’s 5-0 win over the CD Aquiluchos USA in the U.S. Open Cup at Bonney Field.
Republic FC scored four goals on set plays involving the former Sacramento State star.
His corner kicks resulted in header goals by Alfonso Motagalvan and Carlos Rodriguez – the first goals from a direct corner kick since September, 2014 – and he almost had a third assist when he put a free kick into the box in the 36th minute.
His ball was deflected, but Mackenzie Pridham was able to knock it in for a goal.
Alvarez then capped the evening with his brilliant 25-yard upper-corner free kick goal moments before the match ended.
Even against an amateur team like the CD Aguiluchos USA, it was a monster individual performance by a player who has endured his ups and downs the last two seasons.
Alvarez made an impressive pro debut for Republic FC during its 2014 USL championship run. He scored three goals and had a team-high eight assists in 30 matches.
But injuries set him back last season and he appeared in just 18 matches and had just one assist, though it was big. He set up Cameron Iwasa’s game-winning goal in a 1-0 friendly win over Premier League Sunderland AFC in coach Paul Buckle’s coaching debut with Sacramento.
Alvarez hasn’t seen a lot of action this season, either. Wednesday was only his third start in 11 matches.
Buckle says Alvarez “has so much ability” but that he needs to perform better in the run of play.
“He does things at Maxie pace, and I want him to do things quicker,” Buckle said. “He’s got to get that urgency into his game. He has to speed things up.
“…The best players get (the ball) and make their mind up quickly. Maxie’s capable of that and, hopefully after that wonderful goal, he can push for a first-team start.”
Double-edged Tommy Thompson – Make no mistake, Republic FC Director of Football Graham Smith loves it when San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Tommy Thompson can stop by and play for his team.
Thompson’s two-goal performance in Republic FC’s 2-0 win over the Seattle Sounders 2 at Bonney Field last Saturday earned the former Granite Bay High star USL Player of the Week honors.
But on Wednesday he was back in San Jose and played the full 90 minutes in the Earthquakes’ 2-1 friendly win over the La Liga’s Real Sociedad.
“We really jell with Tommy,” Smith said. “His enthusiasm is infectious and rubs off on the lads because he is one of the lads. It’s not Tommy Thompson coming in and giving it ‘I am Tommy Thomspon.’ He fits right in with the group. But it’s also a double-edged sword.”
That’s because Republic FC is never quite certain when they will have the services of San Jose’s popular homegrown player or that of forwards Adam Jahn, Mark Sherrod (currently rehabbing from minor knee surgery) and defender Kip Colvey. All have played this season for Republic FC, but on short-term loans.
It’s a lot different than Republic FC’s first season when it had an affiliation with both the ’Quakes and the Portland Timbers.
Timbers’ goalkeeper Jake Gleeson spent almost the entire 2014 season in Sacramento. Jahn played the majority of the year with Republic FC and contributed seven goals.
Several other Portland and San Jose players also played for Republic FC that season, including Thompson. He appeared in nine matches.
But Smith said the current arrangement just reinforces the need for Sacramento’s players to be able to stand on their own during the bruising USL campaign.
“We’re grateful when the (San Jose players) get the opportunity to come play for us,” Smith said. “At the same time, it can be dangerous if we rely upon them too much.”
Sounders in fourth round? – If Republic FC can defeat the Kitsap Pumas FC in the third round U.S. Open Cup match June 1 at Bonney Field, they will play the MLS Seattle Sounders on June at 15 at the Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila, Wash., in the fourth round.
Republic FC has reached the fourth round in the previous two seasons, losing both times to the Earthquakes.
MATCH AT A GLANCE
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Bonney Field
The skinny: Liverpool U-21s are coming off their 2015-16 season so they are in shape and sharp and will bring a number of players with first team experience. They include Lloyd Jones, Joe Maguire, Connor Randall, Kevin Stewart, Cameron Brannagan, Sergi Canos and Ryan Kent. Also making the trip is United States U-20 Men’s National Team player Brooks Lennon, a forward. Republic FC coach Paul Buckle said the fans may get a chance to take their first look at new attacking midfielder Daniel Trickett-Smith, who played for four seasons in the Liverpool Academy system, and joined the team on Friday. Sacramento will be without defender Emrah Klimenta. He’s training overseas with the Montenegro Men’s National Team. “We did well against Sunderland and Newcastle last (summer), and we will need to put in the same sort of performance if we are going to compete with Liverpool.” Buckle said.