Soccer

Republic FC coach anticipates return of San Jose Earthquakes players

Republic FC midfielder Tommy Thompson (16) during the match between Sacramento Republic FC and Arizona United SC at Bonney Field in Sacramento on June 26, 2014.
Republic FC midfielder Tommy Thompson (16) during the match between Sacramento Republic FC and Arizona United SC at Bonney Field in Sacramento on June 26, 2014. Sacramento Bee file

The loan of San Jose Earthquakes players Tommy Thompson, Mark Sherrod and JJ Koval to Republic FC isn’t a one-and-done deal.

Republic FC coach Paul Buckle said the Quakes threesome is expected to play with the team through the final four regular-season games and possibly into the playoffs should the defending USL champs qualify.

“I can’t say for definite,” Buckle said. “But (San Jose coach) Dominic (Kinnear) wants them to be with us. I want them to be with us, and I’m sure the team does.”

Thompson, Sherrod and Koval had a huge impact for Republic FC in last Saturday’s 3-1 win over the Tulsa Roughnecks FC at Bonney Field.

Thompson scored a goal and assisted another, Sherrod had a goal and Koval played well in the midfield for the suspended Ivan Mirkovic.

Sherrod, a forward, had joined Republic FC the day before and Thompson and Koval, both midfielders, scooted up to Sacramento from San Jose the morning of the match.

They will have to have their bags packed and be quick on their feet again if they are to play for Republic FC in Sunday’s 3 p.m. match at the Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2.

Kinnear kept the three in San Jose this week training with the Earthquakes for Saturday night’s match against the Philadelphia Union at Avaya Stadium.

Kinnear will be without midfielders Anibal Godoy (Panama), Cordell Cato (Trinidad and Tobago) and Sanna Nyassi (Gambia), all on international call-ups. Another absent midfielder will be Marc Pelosi. He is with the United States U-23 team for Olympic warm-up competition.

Buckle said because of those players’ absence, Thompson, Koval and Sherrod could be among the 18 players Kinnear suits up against Philadelphia as San Jose tries to extend its Major League Soccer winning streak to five.

Buckle doesn’t expect travel problems, despite the short window between matches.

“Our club does great with those things, so logistically we’re ahead of the game,” Buckle said. “If we get the green light Saturday from San Jose, then the boys will come (to Vancouver).”

Buckle thinks the unorthodox arrangement only strengthens Republic FC, even if it means several of Sacramento’s regular players are sidelined. He also doesn’t believe that revealing his starting lineup until shortly before the match hurts the team’s chemistry.

“I didn’t name the team until last Saturday evening and I felt that was a big positive for us,” Buckle said. “There was a freshness about us. There was a real hunger.”

Buckle also got the sense that Sherrod, Koval and Thompson, the former Granite Bay High School standout, were pleased to get some quality minutes in an atmosphere that is perhaps even a little more raucous than Avaya Stadium – thanks to the Tower Bridge Battalion.

“They wanted to be here,” Buckle said. “This was the conversation I had with Dominic prior to the players coming in. It wasn’t a case of Dominic sending them or a case of me dragging them here. They wanted to come.

“I think all three parties were happy, and that’s what you should have in a successful loan.”

Sixth-place Republic FC (11-8-5, 38 points) will play a Vancouver team (8-12-5, 29 points) that entered the weekend in 10th place and needs to win all three of its final regular-season matches to have a shot at reaching the playoffs.

Sacramento defeated the first-year franchise 2-0 on April 15 at Bonney Field on two goals by Rodrigo Lopez. His second came on a 60-yard blast from midfield that became a hit on social media and was the USL Goal of the Month for April.

Bill Paterson: 916-326-5506, @SacBee_BillP

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