The Republic FC-Los Angeles Galaxy II rivalry seems to make no sense.
Republic FC (4-3-2, 14 points) is 4-0-1 all time at the Galaxy II’s home field in Carson.
But Republic FC is only so-so at Bonney Field, where Los Dos (5-2-5, 20 points) has a two-match winning streak entering Saturday night’s USL contest at the Cal Expo stadium.
Republic FC suffered a franchise-worse 4-0 loss to the Galaxy II in Preki’s farewell game last July, then fell 1-0 to Los Angeles in the opening round of the USL playoffs in September. Both games were at Bonney Field. The Sacramento series is tied 3-3-0.
Defender Emrah Klimenta thinks the focus is a bit sharper for road teams.
“When you are constantly together, there’s maximum concentration,” said Klimenta, who had a marvelous free-kick goal to help Republic FC beat Los Angeles 2-0 on May 7 at the StubHub Track and Field Stadium. “When you’re at home, it’s a little bit different in the sense that while you are still focused on the game, there are distractions. It’s on you to make your own breakfast, to make sure you are taking care of yourself and to show up on time. It’s stuff you don’t even worry about when you are on the road.”
Republic FC coach Paul Buckle attributes the lack of a home-field advantage to the rivalry’s intensity.
“It’s two good teams,” Buckle said. “It’s a derby, and when you have a derby, (the results) can go either way.”
Sacramento’s win at Los Angeles this season proved huge.
Republic FC was in the midst of a franchise worst three-game losing streak and four-match scoreless streak.
The win jump-started Republic FC’s six-match unbeaten streak that ended with Wednesday’s shocking 3-1 loss to the lower-division Kitsap Pumas in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup at Bonney Field.
Republic FC would like to start another positive streak against Los Dos, arguably the most talented team in the USL and one that still complains about its controversial 3-2 “Miracle at Bonney” semifinal playoff loss in 2014 that propelled Sacramento to the USL title in its inaugural season.
“I still think the way we beat them that first season left a sour taste in their mouths,” Klimenta said. “I think they are a little hungier when they come to Bonney Field. Who wouldn’t want to play in front of 11,500 fans and on a great field?”
But last year’s 1-0 playoff loss to Los Dos left a bad taste in the mouth of Republic FC goalkeeper Dominik Jakubek, who still can’t accept that the series between the two is tied at home.
“We didn’t lose that game, even though the score said 1-0 and they advanced,” Jakubek said. “If you were there and watched that game, it was a total domination.”
Republic FC lost on a penalty kick despite outshooting Los Dos 15-3.
“I expect us to come out really fired up for this game,” Jakubek said.
Los Dos had an eight-game unbeaten streak before its last loss to Republic FC. It has gone 1-2-1 since and fallen into second place in the Western Conference, though it pummeled Arizona United SC 4-1 in its last match on May 28.
The Galaxy II leads the USL with 25 goals, and forward Jack McBean paces the league with 11 goals. The only team to shut them out is Republic FC, which has allowed a league-low four goals.
Republic FC allowed almost that many in its loss to the Kitsap Pumas. Republic FC coach Paul Buckle said the absence of central defender Derek Foran because of a hip injury was huge. Buckle hopes Foran and defensive midfielder JJ Koval (groin) will play against the Galaxy II.
“We missed Derek; we missed his leadership,” Buckle said. “Our clean sheets, shutouts and defensive shape (have) been great. We can’t allow one Cup game to cloud all of that.”
Republic FC will get a boost from the San Jose Earthquakes as forward Adam Jahn and midfielder-forward Tommy Thompson have been loaned to Sacramento while San Jose takes a break because of the Copa America.
Buckle hopes to have the duo for at least the next two matches.
The Earthquakes are off until the U.S. Open Cup on June 14.