Sacramento Republic FC

Coach's Corner: Republic FC Closes out Preseason Travel Schedule with 1-0 Win over Seattle Sounders

February 19, 2024 - United Soccer League Championship (USL)
Sacramento Republic FC News Release

In its final contest in a stretch of four matches in eight days, Republic FC took a 1-0 win over MLS side Seattle Sounders FC. With a clean sheet against one of the top scoring teams in MLS last year and goal from Russell Cicerone, the result gave Republic FC a big boost as the club enters the back half of preseason.

"I thought that this was the first game that we showed our DNA, that we showed our intensity and our quality," said Head Coach Mark Briggs. "It was a really pleasing performance from everybody that stepped on the field. I felt that this was the strongest 90 minutes we've played as a group this year, so to perform like that against the caliber of a team Seattle put out was really pleasing."

One week out from the start of the MLS season, Saturday marked the final tune up for Seattle, who fielded its top players against Sacramento, including a starting lineup featuring Jordan Morris, Cristian Roldan, and Albert Rusnák. "It gives our team confidence to be able to perform at the level that we did against what will probably be Seattle's starting lineup in their season opener. It has to give everybody confidence in what we can do." With the victory, Republic FC is unbeaten against MLS sides this preseason, playing a 1-1 draw against San Jose Earthquakes earlier in the month.

Cicerone's second preseason goal came in the 44th minute, as the forward put a 25-yard free kick past Seattle's top goalkeeper, Stefan Frei. It was the third free kick goal scored by Sacramento this preseason - matching the club's mark for the entire 2023 campaign. "It was an area of the game where we struggled last year," said Briggs. "It bodes well for the season to see several from free kicks and corners. Now we've just got to continue down that pathway and continue to put in the focus and effort when we get those opportunities when it matters."

Republic FC's youth players got another opportunity to earn valuable experience against a top-division team. Following the first 90, the two sides played another 45 minutes, with Republic FC fielding a lineup that included some rostered players, several academy debutants, and three trialists. "Chances like these are huge for their development," said Briggs. "To show them that they can compete against some of the top players in the country and hold their own."

Briggs points to Rafael Jauregui as an example of how important these opportunities can be for the club's youngest players. Now in his fourth pro season, the 19-year-old has continued to put in standout performances, including a start in Saturday's match. "Just a few years ago, Rafa was the young guy on the team, getting minutes here and there against the pros. And with the form he's been with this preseason and the quality he showed against Seattle, we can see that he's grown from every opportunity he's been given and is ready to play a larger role on the team this year."

Saturday's contest closed out what Briggs and President & General Manager Todd Dunivant consider the first chapter of the club's preseason. In its first stretch of preseason friendlies, Republic FC's five contests - including three wins - have begun building the foundation for upcoming season. "Preseason is about evolving together as a group," said Dunivant. "Fortunately, with so many players returning from last year, we already have a really strong cohesion so we haven't needed to focus on that aspect as much as we maybe would have in previous years. So we've really been able to work on our fitness and now we've been able to build everyone's minutes so that the players are fit and healthy in time for the season."

"It's all about taking steps forward," he continued. "The team has obviously been doing really well in training sessions and in these friendlies, and now we'll have the opportunity to take everything up a level as we begin to focus on more of those tactical things, those little things that will get us to where we want to be on opening night."

Three final preseason friendlies are on the schedule for Republic FC ahead of its March 9 season opener. This week, the club will host regional foes Central Valley Fuego FC (USL League One) and Oakland Roots SC before closing out preseason against Monterey Bay F.C. on March 2. Tickets for the March 2 contest are available now at and all fans in attendance will have the opportunity to meet this year's squad after the final whistle.

Tickets to opening night are available now!

Secure your seat at Heart Health Park as Republic FC kicks off its 11th campaign on March 9.

• Discuss this story on the United Soccer League Championship message board...

United Soccer League Championship Stories from February 19, 2024

The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

OurSports Central