Already off to a franchise-best USL start, Republic FC will try for its third league win in a row when it plays at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2.
Republic FC opened the season with a 1-0 win at the Seattle Sounders FC 2 on March 25, then beat Arizona United SC 1-0 April 2 at Sacramento’s Bonney Field.
Sacramento has done it with strong defense, led by the back four of Emrah Klimenta, Derek Foran, Chris Christian and James Kiffe, and goalkeeper Dominik Jakubek. Sacramento allowed only one shot on goal in the matches.
Sacramento will face a Vancouver team that, in its second year, appears much improved over last season’s team that lost both meetings to Sacramento and finished 11th in the then-12-team Western Conference.
Vancouver opened the season with two road wins, beating the Orange County Blues FC 1-0 and the Portland Timbers 2, 3-1.
Its new additions, Daniel Haber and Kyle Greig, have already produced big dividends. Both have scored two goals. Republic FC is familiar with Greig. The 26-year-old veteran scored 16 goals during the last two seasons for the OKC Energy FC, another Western Conference team.
Vancouver also has 15-year-old Liberian forward Alphonso Davies, the youngest player in the league.
“They’re the home team, so the onus is on them to come out and try to get the first goal,” Republic FC coach Paul Buckle said. “We’ve shown in preseason and our first two league games that we’re a tough nut to crack.”
Buckle hopes to be with the team at least through the match. His wife, Rebecca Lowe, is pregnant and her due date is Monday. They are expecting a boy.
Assistant Adam Smith will coach the team if Buckle must leave before or during the match.
“We’re prepared,” Buckle said on Friday. “Adam and the staff know what’s expected if I do have to leave.”