Republic FC has gone from famine to feast.
Sacramento scored two goals through its first six USL matches in going 2-3-1.
Republic FC has scored 13 goals in its past five matches.
During that stretch, Republic FC beat the LA Galaxy II, then leading the Western Conference, and Seattle Sounders FC 2 by 2-0 scores in back-to-back games.
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Sacramento whipped the lower-tier CD Aguiluchos USA 5-0 in the U.S. Open Cup, then beat the high-quality Liverpool FC U-21s 2-1 on May 21 at Bonney Field before rallying to a 2-2 draw on Harry Williams’ 90th-minute goal Wednesday in Reno in the second of two friendlies between the two sides.
San Jose Earthquakes loan-player Tommy Thompson was the difference in the Seattle win. He scored both goals to earn USL Player of the Week honors before rejoining the Earthquakes.
Newly signed Daniel Trickett-Smith injected some playmaking pizzazz in the two games against his old Liverpool teammates. In addition to creating several chances for Republic FC, he had six shots, four on frame, including a brilliant, long-distance goal on a free kick.
But Republic FC coach Paul Buckle and captain and midfielder Danny Barrera insist that not much has changed tactically or philosophically for Sacramento as it prepares to resume USL play Saturday night against the Swope Park Rangers at Bonney Field.
“We’ve continued to create chances, so that was our story even when we were losing by the odd goal,” Buckle said. “…We’ve remained consistent and we’ve continued our style of play. And (now) we’ve finished; we’ve finished well from set plays – we do a lot of work on it – and now we’re finishing in open play as well.”
Barrera is proud of how his teammates stayed the course through a difficult stretch in which they didn’t score in four consecutive matches, losing three in a row.
“Kudos on everybody on our club to continue to do all the right things and keep believing in our style of play,” Barrera said. “We knew the goals would eventually come.”
Buckle is impressed with the maturation of a group that includes 10 new players plus several reserves from last year’s squad now playing key roles.
“We must not forget how new the group is,” Buckle said. “I said this then when we lost (three) games, and I’ve said this now that we have won four on the spin: We’re still a work in progress.”
Buckle said the two friendlies with the Liverpool FC reserve team gave the club a huge boost in confidence. He used 16 players in the first match, 19 in the second and Sacramento still went toe-to-toe with a group that included several players who made their debuts with Liverpool FC’s top team this season.
Barrera said the wide-open play – the two sides combined for 59 shots – was particularly enjoyable because most USL teams play Republic FC cautiously.
“When you are playing against these European teams, it’s much more of chess game,” he said. “Yes the speed is there, but it’s not just all-out running yourself in the ground. It’s about breaking the other team down. Both sides were aggressive, so it made for a very entertaining game with a very high quality of play.”
Republic FC isn’t sure what to expect from the Swope Park Rangers, Sporting Kansas City’s new USL affiliate. The team won its first two matches then had a draw in its third. Since then it has lost four of its past five. The team features Sporting Kansas City homegrown player Daniel Salloi, a 19-year-old forward who leads the team in scoring and assists with three each while playing just 308 minutes.
That’s as many goals as Republic FC has allowed in eight USL matches, a league best.
But Sacramento will be without one of its key back-line defenders. Republic FC veteran Emrah Klimenta is with the Montenegro national team overseas.
Joaquin Rivas, listed as a forward on Sacramento’s roster, had his first start of the season on Wednesday against Liverpool at right back.
“Rivas can do it,” Buckle said. “We know attacking we are going to benefit from (his presence). We know the way he moves. He’s very fit. He can make things happen. We just got to help him (defensively) as a team.”
MATCH AT A GLANCE
REPUBLIC FC VS. SWOPE PARK RANGERS
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Bonney Field
The Skinny: Republic FC (4-3-1, 13 points) looks to build on its five-match unbeaten streak in which it has scored 13 goals after scoring just two goals in its first six USL matches. The player to watch will be newly signed Daniel Trickett-Smith, the Liverpool U-21s attacking midfielder who has looked dynamic in his first two matches with Sacramento. “He has that star quality we’ve been looking for,” said Republic FC coach Paul Buckle. “And it’s not only the individual that shows up – and Trickett-Smith is great – he’s brought people to life around him.” The Swope Park Rangers (3-4-1, 10 points) look to bounce back after losing four of their last five matches. The team features two veteran forwards in Dane Kelly and Kris Tyrpak. Kelly is USL’s all-time leading scorer with 43 goals, but hasn’t played since April 2. Tyrpak, the former Chivas USA player, scored nine goals and had two assists last season for the Austin Aztex. He has a goal and an assist this season. Goalkeeper Jon Kempin, midfielder Jimmy Medranda and forward Daniel Salloi are on loan from Sporting Kansas City. The first-year team is coached by Marc Dos Santos, the 2015 North American Soccer League Coach of the Year with the Ottawa Fury FC.