Republic FC notes: Paul Buckle not concerned about recent slide

Republic FC coach Paul Buckle, reacting during a May 28 game against Swope Park at Bonney Field, says that despite an 0-3-1 skid, “We’re right where we want to be.”
Republic FC coach Paul Buckle, reacting during a May 28 game against Swope Park at Bonney Field, says that despite an 0-3-1 skid, “We’re right where we want to be.”

Republic FC coach Paul Buckle isn’t panicking, but with an 0-3-1 record over their last four games, Buckle and his players say the next two matches will go a long way in determining their playoff fate in the USL’s Western Conference.

“We’re right where we want to be, actually,” Buckle said. “The boys’ performance level has been high, and now we just have to pick up the points on the road. If I thought the way we were playing was bad, I’d be worried, but I’ve been very pleased with our performance level.”

Republic FC is in fifth place, one point ahead (29-28) of the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros, its opponent Saturday in Edinburg, Texas, and five points ahead of ninth-place San Antonio. The top eight teams in each conference advance to the playoffs.

Republic FC will stay on the road, rather than fly back to Sacramento, before Tuesday’s match at the OKC Energy FC. Oklahoma City is two points ahead of Republic FC, which ends the regular season Sept. 24 at Tulsa.

“It’s not a time to panic, that’s for sure,” Republic FC captain Danny Barrera said. “We’re fine as a team. The guys aren’t down, and I don’t have any plans to call a special meeting or anything like that.”

Barrera said the team is working in two new players, including defender Jeremy Hall, who is on loan from the NASL Tampa Bay Rowdies. Hall has played one game for Republic FC and is expected to replace Emrah Klimenta, who’s out for the season because of a torn ACL.

“We’re still learning about each other,” Barrera said. “We’ll use this experience to win another championship.”

Seeing yellow – After Wednesday’s practice at Bonney Field, Buckle and Republic FC players still were seething over Sunday’s loss at Vancouver.

After defender Mike da Fonte was whistled for what Barrera called a “phantom foul,” Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2’s Marco Bustos scored on a penalty kick past diving Evan Newton to tie the score 1-1. Vancouver, which is tied for the Western Conference lead with 35 points, went on to win 2-1.

“I was just standing there and had position in the box when their player ran right into my chest and flopped to the ground,” said da Fonte, who had just returned from a one-game suspension for too many yellow cards. “I wanted to freak out, but I knew I had to shut up.”

Buckle was so angry with the call that he sent video to USL headquarters.

“In the (English Premier League), if a referee gets too many marks against him, he gets sent to a lower division,” Buckle said. “I wanted to make sure that referee (Juan Marquez) gets a mark. But what the league does with the video I have no idea.”

Four Republic FC players received yellow cards during the loss.

Reading is fundamental – Republic FC forward Cameron Iwasa visited students at 916 Ink on Tuesday to discuss making healthy choices and finding their passion in life.

The non-profit organization, which received a $20,000 grant in June through Republic FC’s Glory Glory Sacramento Fund, promotes literacy in Sacramento by providing an outlet for youths to express themselves through writing. Students have published more than 50 books, and the organization has served more than 1,700 young authors in the Sacramento region.

“It’s a very cool program,” Iwasa said. “The theme of my speech to them was victory and perseverance and how that relates to my soccer career. Oh, and we also played some street soccer.”

Ready for Rio – Rebecca Lowe, Buckle’s wife and a commentator for NBC Sports, will leave their El Dorado Hills home Saturday for Rio de Janeiro to help with soccer coverage at the Summer Olympics, which start Aug. 5.

Lowe said she won’t let Rio’s negatives, from high crime to the Zika virus, outweigh the positives.

“I’m bringing the strongest anti-mosquito juice I can find and bathing in it,” Lowe said. “Our international broadcast center is near the beach, where they tell us mosquitoes don’t like to go, plus it’s winter time down there. I won’t be outside that much anyway.

“It never crossed my mind not to go,” Lowe said.

Mark Billingsley,