Sacramento Republic FC V. San Antonio FC Preview

Jun 3, 2022, 2:20 PM | Updated: 2:20 pm

Sacramento Republic FC

Sacramento Republic FC will look to get back in the win column this weekend, but face a tough opponent in San Antonio FC, the head of the pack in the Western Conference of the USL.

The club from south Texas currently sports 27 points through 11 matches, tied with Louisville City for most points in the USL this season. After being knocked out of the U.S. Open Cup in May, San Antonio are back to winning ways, defeating Miami FC, 2-0, and bitter rivals Rio Grande Valley FC, 3-2, in the South Texas Derby last weekend.

Republic players, like Conor Donovan, acknowledged the significance of Saturday’s clash with the west leaders following training Thursday, knowing that it could come down to a one-goal difference in this tightly-contested match.

“San Antonio is a good team, they’re the top of the table for a reason,” Donovan said. “It’s going to be a tough battle, that’s the biggest thing, it’s going to be a battle.”

“They’re a good side, we’re not going to take them lightly,” Republic midfielder and Elk Grove native Matt LaGrassa added. “But at the end of the day, you know, we feel like it’s going to come down to millimeters on the weekend, and we’re going to have to be at our best to win.”

And their best is what’s required of them as the Indomitable Club currently sits one spot outside of the playoffs, a mere two points behind Rio Grande. But with two games in hand over the Toros, the Republic are looking to capitalize and take control of that final playoff spot by final whistle Saturday night.

“We feel like we’ve left a few points on the table for sure. That we could be in a little bit of a better spot, but we’re definitely not worried or dissatisfied with it at this point,” LaGrassa said. “We feel like we’re still kind of finding our stride as a group. We’ve had some really good moments, we’ve had some moments that we feel like maybe could be better. So I think as the season goes on, we’re expecting to be a little bit more lethal, [and to] be taking all three points on a lot of these games.”

Being lethal is priority No.1 for head coach Mark Briggs if the team is going to climb the table in the coming weeks, noting the good performance in Oakland but wanting more efficient finishing in the final third.

“I thought it was excellent. We should have scored more goals but we came away with a point, we should have come away with three. But we go into Saturday against the number one team, playing at home on our stadium in front of our fans, which is where we like to be so yeah, we want to put on a [good] performance and we want to get three points,” Briggs said.

The attacking play has come from all over the pitch in recent games with Luis Felipe contributing two goals in two games from the midfield, an aspect of the team that Briggs sees as not only a positive, but a necessity if they want to make a deep run in the postseason.

“You know throughout the season we want everyone to be scoring goals,” Briggs said. “It’s great that Luis has popped up with a couple and it’s great that every now and then you need goals from centre-backs, you need goals from midfield players, you need goals from attacking midfield players. And obviously like you say we need our number nine as well. So primarily the focus falls on the front players, but the fact that players all over the field are coming up with goals is a positive for us.”

The Englishman also sees the lack of a ruthless edge from the team in the previous match as something to improve on, hoping to put their opponents on the back foot early come Saturday.

“It’s that ruthless edge. We’ve got to get that ruthless edge and when we create those opportunities, we’ve got to punish teams, especially when they’re on the backfoot and they’re struggling,” he said.

However, the one clear advantage the Republic have over San Antonio is the roar of the home crowd, returning to Heart Health Park ten days after a historic night for the club, defeating MLS side San Jose Earthquakes, 2-0, to advance into the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup. Both players and coaching staff alike feel that if they are going to come out of the weekend with a win, the support of the fans will play a huge role.

“The atmosphere we had against San Jose, on a Wednesday night was just unbelievable,” LaGrassa said. “We’re hoping a lot of people are coming back, and we’re excited to see what the atmosphere looks like again for another big one on Saturday.”

“The atmosphere, the whole experience, the night was it was just a historic night for the club. But we need to recreate that in league form. We need the city behind us. We need the fans behind us,” Briggs added.

Saturday also serves as the club’s Pride Night Celebration, sporting Pride-themed nets and corner flags and hosting a variety of events, including the presentation of a $1,000 scholarship to a local student in partnership with the Sacramento LGBT Community Center.

Kickoff from Heart Health Park is set for 8:00 p.m., with the match being broadcast live on FOX40, FOX40.com and the FOX40 App, and also streaming on ESPN+.

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