Soccer notes: Republic FC coach Buckle still has faith in defense

Republic FC opened the USL season struggling to score goals while relying on air-tight defense.

Sacramento resolved its scoring issues and put together a nine-game league unbeaten streak.

But that run ended Wednesday night when Real Monarchs SLC scored three goals in the final 20 minutes to top Republic FC 3-2 at Bonney Field. The contest was decided on Derek Foran’s own-goal deflection as he tried to block a cross from the Real Monarchs’ Ricardo Velazco.

It was the most goals allowed in league play by Republic FC dating to July 11, 2015, when it fell 4-0 to LA Galaxy II in Preki’s farewell game. Once harboring the USL’s stingiest defense, Sacramento hasn’t had a shutout in more than a month.

But Republic FC coach Paul Buckle doesn’t think his team’s defense is melting down as it prepares to play Sunday at Orange County Blues FC in the first of a five consecutive road games.

“I don’t think we struggled defensively as a team,” Buckle said of Wednesday’s match. “Ultimately, it was a smash and grab (scoring while the other team dominates play). Sometimes that can come in the season. After watching the game back, we did so many good things. I don’t like to use the word ‘luck,’ but you would have to say they had good fortune, especially with the last goal.”

He noted that Republic FC (8-4-4, 28 points) allowed only four shots on goal while outshooting Real Monarchs 18-9. Republic FC has allowed 14 goals in 16 games. Only three teams in the 29-team league have allowed fewer goals.

Republic FC’s defense for OC Blues (6-7-3, 21 points) will be bolstered by the return of Chris Christian. He missed a USL match for the first time this season on Wednesday after serving a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation.

Sacramento also will have back San Jose Earthquakes loan player Kip Colvey, who Buckle thought was solid on Wednesday at right fullback. He played with a soft cast protecting his surgically repaired left finger.

Buckle hopes Colvey will stay for an extended period to fill the vacuum left by Emrah Klimenta. Republic FC’s all-time leader in games and minutes played has been lost for the season because of a left knee injury.

“Kip Colvey is someone I believe in,” Buckle said of the former Cal Poly standout. “I think he can do the job for us.”

Colvey, 22, has appeared in four games and made three starts for San Jose after being picked in the third round of the Major League Soccer SuperDraft in January.

Buckle said Thursday’s news that Klimenta will have knee surgery soon was a big blow, as he was having the best season of his career.

“Emrah is a huge loss – there is no doubt about it,” Buckle said. “The great thing with Emrah is he has got a brilliant attitude towards life, not only football, but toward how he goes about his day-to-day work, which he needs to be positive. And he certainly has that.”

Academy completes season – The Republic FC Academy 17/18s fell 5-3 to the Vancouver Whitecaps FC residency academy team Thursday in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy quarterfinals in Vancouver. Ryley Kraft, Francis Avoce and Gio Aguilar scored for Republic FC.

World Cup winners – Woodland High School student Mia Marin and former Folsom High and American River College player McCall Madriago helped the United States win the Deaf World Cup championship in Eboli, Italy. The U.S. team beat Russia 3-0 in the July 2 title match. Marin, who will be a junior this fall, was named the best young player at the World Cup.

Nationals bound – The Ethos Soccer Club’s U-15/16 Earthquakes boys team will play in the U.S. Club Soccer national finals July 22-25 in Aurora, Colo. The team qualified by beating the Davis Legacy Red 3-0 in the West Regional finals last month.

Bill Paterson: 916-326-5506, @SacBee_BillP