Sacramento Republic FC v. New Mexico United Preview
Coming off consecutive victories for the first time since June, Sacramento Republic FC now travel to Albuquerque to take on New Mexico United Wednesday.
Off the heels of their historic U.S. Open Cup Semifinal win against MLS side Sporting Kansas City, the Republic need to build on that moment and they did, defeating Charleston Battery, 4-2, to snag all three points.
The Republic started off slow last Saturday, conceding in the first four minutes to the Battery’s Enock Kwakwa. But unlike the Birmingham Legion match, the boys picked their heads up and got back in the match thanks to a good header by Emil Cuello in the 16th minute. Luther Archimède gave the Quails the lead in the 30th minute before the home side leveled the contest at 2-2 in the 42nd minute. Sacramento was determined as ever to stay on top and they did that, taking the lead two minutes later as Zieko Lewis scored on his former club right before half-time. The Republic added another right after the break, thanks to a Matt LaGrassa strike into the bottom left corner, making the score 4-2. Sacramento defended vigilantly after that to hold onto the lead and the away win.
The win away from home shot the Quails up to fifth in the standings, tied with El Paso at 33 points on the year.
Way to close July out! Proud to be part of this special group. https://t.co/A0wUY8deYn
— Damià Viader – “DAMI” (@Damiaviader) July 31, 2022
“Scoring four goals was obviously great for us. Hopefully now, we can continue with that and start to put the ball in the net at a little more higher rate than what we have done. But essentially, yeah, it’s nice to score goals, but it’s about winning games. So I don’t care if we score one goal or four goals or five goals. As long as we’re getting points, that’s all that matters,” head coach Mark Briggs said.
On the flip side, New Mexico is currently on a seven-match unbeaten streak, including their most recent match against New York Red Bulls II, winning 2-1 away from home. A strong defensive squad, The Black and Yellow have held their opponents to a goal or less for the majority of the season, putting them at fourth in the western conference at 38 points. Their overall record is 10-8-3 past the midway point of the 2022 season.
While not scoring a ton of goals, New Mexico is able to find a breakthrough rom all over the pitch, similar to how the Republic operate during a match. Sacramento will need to be wary of that Wednesday night in this true six-point contest, as both clubs are vying to maintain their spot in the USL playoffs, potentially for a deep run this season.
“All the points are massive for us now in the league,” Elk Grove native Matt LaGrassa said. “We’ve gotten some good results as of recently, anytime you’re playing somebody that’s close to you in the table, you want to take points off them. We still got our eyes on playoffs and not just playoffs, hopefully a home playoff game. So this could be massive down the stretch for what the seeding looks like, considering they’re in fourth right now. So big one for us and we’re definitely taking it seriously.”
Their fourth match of five in a 14-day window, the Republic have some tired legs out there, forcing Briggs and the coaching staff to rotate the squad. The additions of Deshorn Brown, Danny Reynolds and Josh Bauer most recently, should help the Quails will any squad fatigue as they look to come out on top of both the Open Cup and the USL this season.
Yes the key players will feature in the biggest matches, (barring any injuries) but the club has maintained along that it’s a “next man up” mentality, proclaiming that their depth in the squad is what makes them so dangerous.
A massive week from my players, every single person in our squad stepped up and produced. 3 points on the road and cross country travel after 120 mins mid week. Together we are stronger #3points #family #whynotus
— Mark Briggs (@markbriggs6) July 31, 2022
“It’s massive, it’s massive,” Briggs said. “It shows the depth of the squad, the quality of the squad, to be able to rotate and keep it as fresh as we can…We’ve got to go again, unfortunately, this is the schedule we have and we talk about not having any excuses. We don’t want excuses. We got to continue grinding out and continue trying to get results for one another.
“I’ve said all along every player on this roster I have full trust in and fully believe in. And that enables me to be able to rotate and rest people in the right moments, and keep the team as fresh as we can to try and obtain the results that we need.”
The two clubs are meeting for the second time this season, with the first contest ending in a scoreless draw.
Kickoff from Isotopes Park is set for 6:00 p.m. PT and the match will be broadcast live on Antenna TV 40.2, FOX40.com and the FOX40 App, and streaming on ESPN+. Sacramento will return home Saturday, August 6, to face Rio Grande Valley FC.
Quotes edited for brevity