Soccer

Top playoff seed on the line Tuesday for Republic FC

The Tower Bridge Battalion cheer on Friday, April 24, 2015 in the soccer game between Republic FC and the Orange County Blues FC at Bonney Field in Sacramento.
The Tower Bridge Battalion cheer on Friday, April 24, 2015 in the soccer game between Republic FC and the Orange County Blues FC at Bonney Field in Sacramento. jvillegas@sacbee.com

The scenario is straightforward for Republic FC on Tuesday night, when it plays the Orange County Blues FC in a USL regular-season finale at UC Irvine’s Anteater Stadium.

With a win, Republic FC (13-8-6, 45 points) will earn the Western Conference’s top playoff seed and a first-round bye. With a loss or a draw, Republic FC will be seeded fourth and host fifth-seeded LA Galaxy II on Saturday at Bonney Field.

For the resurgent Blues (14-9-4, 46 points), a win or a tie will give them the West’s No. 1 playoff seed. A loss will give Orange County the No. 4 seed and a first-round meeting with LA Galaxy II in Irvine.

The Rochester Rhinos (16-1-10, 58 points), who won the Eastern Conference title, are recognized as the USL regular-season champions after finishing with the most points.

The match between Orange County and Republic FC was scheduled for Wednesday but was postponed because of unplayable field conditions caused by storms.

The Blues, who were second-to-last in the 14-team USL last season, are 7-1-3 in their last 11 matches and 9-3-1 at home this season.

In their only meeting this season April 24 at Bonney Field, Orange County won 2-1 behind a goal and an assist by Didier Crettenand. The Blues prevailed in the rain despite playing the final 30 minutes a man down after Luka Petricevic’s red-card ejection.

Although disappointed with a 0-0 draw with 10th-place Arizona United SC despite a club-record 24 shots Saturday at Bonney Field, Republic FC coach Paul Buckle is pleased his squad is undefeated in its last six matches, with the last two being shutouts.

“As a coach, you have to be careful that all the good work you’ve done you don’t break by being too harsh, because the hardest thing in the game is to score a goal,” Buckle said Saturday. “It’s good that I’m disappointed with a 0-0. It shows how far we have come.”

Sacramento is undefeated in its last seven road matches and at 6-4-3 is one of only two teams in the 12-team Western Conference with a winning road record.

Republic FC players will see a familiar face Tuesday night. Forward David Estrada played most of the season with Sacramento before being released Aug. 10 and signing with the Blues. The former Major League Soccer player has three assists in six matches with Orange County. He had three goals and three assists in 18 league matches with Republic FC.

Bill Paterson: 916-326-5506, @SacBee_BillP

2015 USL playoffs

Eastern Conference quarterfinals

No. 5 Pittsburgh at No. 4 New York, Saturday, 2 p.m.

No. 6 Richmond at No. 3 Charleston, Saturday, 4:30 p.m.

Western Conference quarterfinals

No. 6 Seattle at No. 3 Colorado Springs, Friday, 6 p.m.

No. 5 Los Angeles at No. 4 Orange County, Sunday, 7 p.m., or at No. 4 Republic FC, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

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