Soccer notes: Republic FC’s Adam Smith takes coaching reins

Adam Smith knows the drill.

The Republic FC assistant coach is running the team this week in the absence of head coach Paul Buckle. Buckle left Sacramento on Tuesday morning to be with his wife, Rebecca Lowe, in Connecticut for the birth of their son.

Smith ran training Tuesday and Wednesday and is expected to coach Sacramento on Sunday when it plays at the Portland Timbers 2.

Smith made clear that Buckle still has his hand firmly on a Republic FC squad that is off to a 2-0-1 USL start.

“I’m in contact with him every day,” Smith said. “Nothing is going to change. We keep moving forward.”

Buckle said he has supreme confidence in his fellow Englishman.

“Adam and the staff know what’s expected,” Buckle said before departing.

Smith has run training sessions and scrimmages previously when Buckle preferred to observe and evaluate or was involved in other team business.

Midfielder Danny Barrera, who has worn the captain’s band during USL play, doesn’t expect Sacramento to miss a beat.

“There are definitely no concerns,” Barrera said. “Paul has given us the tools to succeed, and Adam knows how to handle the team. We want to play hard for Adam and the club.”

Smith was on the Portland Timbers coaching staff for five seasons before coaching under Preki with Republic FC in 2015. Smith is also the technical director for the Elk Grove Soccer Club.

Looking for goals – While Republic FC is the only team in the 29-club USL that has yet to allow a goal, it’s not exactly lighting it up offensively, a concern carried over from late last season.

Republic FC has scored only two goals – one on a penalty kick by Tommy Stewart – and has failed to score in four of its past six USL matches dating to last season.

But Barrera said the team isn’t about to panic.

“We’re getting in dangerous positions, but we’ve been getting some unlucky decisions,” he said. “It’s just a matter of time.”

Republic FC has had three goals nullified on calls disputed by Buckle, including an offside that took away a Stewart goal Sunday.

Smith praises Stewart’s patience and the energy that Cameron Iwasa has provided off the bench. He thinks San Jose Earthquakes forward Mark Sherrod, back in San Jose this week, could have an impact if he returns to the team on loan. He also expects good things from former Cal Poly star Mackenzie Pridham and 20-year-old English transplant Harry Williams once they get their chances. Both were sidelined by late-preseason injuries and have yet to see USL playing time.

“Harry is just now back training, and Mackenzie hasn’t had a chance yet, but he knows the back of the net,” Smith said. “I think we’ll be fine.”

Iwasa, who scored late in Republic FC’s 1-0 home win over Arizona United SC on April 2, said fans shouldn’t worry.

“We are creating chances,” Iwasa said. “Sometimes it’s just the way the ball bounces; it’s not always going to fall your way. I would expect very soon we are going to have a breakout game where we net three or four goals, and then things will start to flow.”

MLS coming to town – Smith said it’s encouraging for Republic FC’s Major League Soccer ambitions that MLS Commissioner Don Garber is scheduled to visit Sacramento on Thursday.

“I’d love to be back there again working in Major League Soccer,” Smith said. “Hopefully soon after this visit, (MLS) will come out with an announcement, and we can move forward and the whole city can get ready for it. But for us as coaches and players, we have to focus on the now and this league and winning the next game which, hopefully, is this weekend.”

Streaks halted – Republic FC’s 18- and 16-year-old academy teams saw long unbeaten streaks come to an end Saturday at home against their San Jose Earthquakes Academy counterparts. San Jose 18s defeated Republic FC 2-1, ending Sacramento’s seven-match winning streak. The Earthquakes 16s topped Republic FC 2-1, ending its five-match unbeaten streak.

Bill Paterson: 916-326-5506, @SacBee_BillP