The most impressive thing about Republic FC’s eight-match USL unbeaten streak might be that Sacramento has rallied to win or draw in the second half in five of the last six games.
Three of those rallies have come in the final nine minutes of regulation, including Mackenzie Pridham’s 90th-minute header in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Arizona United SC.
Goalkeeper Dominik Jakubek credits Republic FC’s improved offense that has helped bail out the defense. Once the team’s strength, the defense has allowed four goals in its last three USL matches after allowing six in the previous 11.
“The offense has got a little spark,” Jakubek said. “I think earlier in the year scoring goals was a little bit of a concern. In the last eight games, that doesn’t seem a problem. I think our mentality now is if we concede a goal that puts us behind or ties, we feel we’re going to score.”
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Republic FC coach Paul Buckle said it speaks to the players’ character.
“When you concede a goal, especially at home, it can have an effect on the players,” Buckle said. “I think what it’s shown is that there is a belief in the team that if we do fall behind in a game, we’re able to recover. And we’ve certainly done that.”
Buckle also credits his players’ hard work.
“We’ve shown we can keep a lot of teams at bay,” Buckle said of Sacramento’s six USL shutouts. “In the league, we’ve been in fantastic form without the ball, and now we’re turning the gas up with the ball. We’re starting to score goals, create chances, and it’s come together for us.”
Republic FC (7-3-4, 25 points), which hosts the Seattle Sounders 2 at Bonney Field on Saturday, is fourth in the Western Conference behind Vancouver (8-2-5, 29), Colorado Springs (8-4-2, 26) and Los Angeles (6-2-8, 26).
The Sounders 2 (3-8-4, 13) are 14th, second from the bottom. Republic FC beat Seattle 1-0 on the road in the USL season opener March 25 and 2-0 at Bonney Field on May 14.
“I don’t think you can look at league position at all,” Buckle said. “I think in this league anybody is capable of winning games. At the pro level, you have to be on your game; you have to be at your very best to win a game.”
Academy team in quarterfinals – Republic FC’s U17/18 academy team has advanced to the U.S. Soccer Development Academy quarterfinals July 7 in Vancouver against Whitecaps FC’s academy 17/18s, an established residency program.
Sacramento advanced to the final eight by going undefeated and winning its group on goal differential over the New York Red Bulls’ academy team last weekend in Frisco, Texas.
Republic FC opened group play with a 3-2 win over Sockers FC of Chicago, had a 1-1 draw with the Red Bulls and beat the Pateadores of Southern California 4-2.
The Republic FC and Vancouver teams were Western Conference Northeast Division rivals during the regular season. Vancouver, which beat and tied Sacramento, finished first and Republic FC second.
The Vancouver-Republic FC winner will advance to the semifinals July 14 at the U.S. Soccer National Training Center in Carson.
National qualifiers – The El Dorado Hills-based USA Stars Academy U14 girls team has qualified for the United States Youth Soccer National Championships, July 26-28 in Frisco, Texas. The USA Stars qualified for the national finals by winning the USYS Far West Regional championship last weekend in Boise, Idaho.
The USA Stars defeated the Fullerton Rangers 01 White 1-0 on Lauren Helwig’s 35th-minute goal in the regional championship game.
They are the first area team to win a Region IV title since the San Juan Spirits U14s in 2008.