Republic FC reserve goalkeeper Dominik Jakubek, one of the team’s most popular players, is looking forward to his first start of the season tonight against the Sonoma County Sol in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at Bonney Field.
“I’m more anxious than anything to get out there and play in front of my home fans, family and friends,” Jakubek said. “Every guy is excited. When the manager gives you that chance, you’ve got to step up and take full advantage of it.”
The 35-year-old Jakubek was a busy guy last year. No. 1 goalkeeper Jake Gleeson, on loan from the Portland Timbers, battled injuries throughout the season and also had a few call-ups to his Major League Soccer team. So Jakubek played in 21 matches and saw 1,634 minutes.
But other than a couple of early friendlies against amateur teams in February, Jakubek has watched from the bench as new goalkeeper Patrick McLain has been sturdy and steady in helping Republic FC to the top of the USL Western Conference.
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Somona County is an amateur team that is 6-0-1 in National Premier Soccer League play and coming off a 2-1 extra-time win over the Burlingame Dragons FC, the San Jose Earthquakes’ new Premier Development League affiliate, in the first round of Open Cup play.
So Jakubek is expecting to be tested.
“I remember playing in the NPSL and having the chance to play against MLS sides,” Jakubek said of his previous tenure with the Sacramento Gold. “As a lower seed, you are amped. That’s like your championship game.
“So we expect Sonoma to come out here and give it their all. They are good team, they’re a quality team in their league, and they’ve been around a long time.”
But Jakubek said the Republic FC players will be fired up, too. Like Jakubek, several of those expected to start tonight haven’t been getting a lot of minutes with Sacramento.
“We’re not looking past anybody,” Jakubek said. “We’re preparing like it’s a final. You can see the intensity in our practice (Tuesday). Guys who haven’t been playing are itching for their chance.”
Jakubek played well during his U.S. Open Cup tenure last season. He allowed three goals and recorded a shutout in three appearances. He also recorded a save on a penalty and the ensuing rebound in a 6-0 win over the Fresno Fuego.
He said the players have a goal of advancing beyond last year’s fourth round, where they fell 2-1 to the San Jose Earthquakes in San Francisco. It was a match in which Republic FC outplayed the Earthquakes everywhere but on the scoreboard.
“Last year, the way we lost to the Earthquakes, left a sour taste in our mouth,” Jakubek said.