Get to Know: SRFC's Pacific Division
The boys in Old Glory Red are paired with seven other west coast clubs including a newcomer from the Bay Area
On Tuesday, the USL Championship announced the conference alignment for the 2021 season and Sacramento Republic FC has been paired with seven solid clubs scattered all over the west coast.
The Indomitable Club is joined by Tacoma Defiance, LA Galaxy II, Orange County SC, Las Vegas Lights FC, San Diego Loyal SC, Phoenix Rising FC and brand-new to the league itself - Oakland Roots.
As the season slowly approaches, there's no better time than now to take a quick look at each of Republic FC's ahead of the upcoming campaign.
All eight clubs make up the Pacific Division of the Western Conference and will compete in a 32-game regular season schedule over the course of 27 weeks. Each team will play its division opponents four times - twice home and twice away.
LA Galaxy II
Los Dos and Republic FC have a history of conjuring up memorable matches and 2021 should be no different.
LA didn't make many in-bound roster changes this offseason, with the exception of signing promising young midfielders Taylor Davila and Alex Alcala. Davila is a Los Dos Academy product who shined during his time with UC Berkeley while Alcala - a Stockton-native - previously spent time training with Manchester City, Barcelona's La Masia and Mexican-club Pachuca.
Following a two-year absence from the postseason in 2017 and 2018, the SoCal club will be looking to find its way into the playoffs for a third straight season after earning a spot in the single elimination bracket each of the last two campaigns. Last season, LA finished second in its group behind the eventual Western Conference winners - Phoenix Rising FC - but was downed in the opening round, 4-1, on the road by Reno 1868 FC.
Unlike in years past, in 2020 Republic FC clashed with Los Dos just once and suffered a 1-0 defeat to LA in Carson on July 25. An Augustine Williams strike in the 71st minute ultimately proved to be the difference.
Las Vegas Lights FC
Republic FC and Las Vegas have clashed four times since 2018, but none of the meetings occurred during the shortened 2020 season.
The last time SRFC played the club from Sin City, the match ended in a 0-0 draw at Papa Murphy's Park in early August 2019. The draw was just the second time Lights FC played in Sacramento - with the first being a 1-0 win for the boys in Old Glory Red in October 2018. That one-goal victory is the only time the Indomitable Club managed to earn all three points against the Nevada club.
In the all-time series, SRFC posts a 1-3-1 record against a Lights FC side that the boys in Old Glory Red are set to meet four times this season.
Heading into the 2021 season, Lights FC's lone transaction has been the club exercising its option to extend the contract for homegrown player Blake Frischknecht. The forward's three goals were tied for second on the team and three assists were the most by a Las Vegas player last season.
Oakland Roots SC
The 2021 Championship season will be the very-first USL campaign in Roots SC's existence.
After previously playing in the National Independent Soccer Association, the East Bay club is primed to make a positive first impression with former SRFC Academy coach Jordan Ferrell playing a pivotal role with the club as the Technical Director. During the offseason, Oakland made substantial moves to lure proven and experienced players to Roots for the inaugural Championship campaign. Two of those moves involve veteran goalkeepers, Zeus De La Paz and Ben Beaury, both of which are reliable shot-stoppers with years of experience manning the net.
Oakland solidified its defensive core with Akeem Ward who was drafted by D.C. United in 2019, Tarek Morad who has over 100 appearances in USL play, Tarn Weir who previously played in Belgium's topflight with RSC Anderlecht, and Max Ornstil who has plenty of experience lining up against SRFC having previously played for Portland Timbers II.
The midfield boasts a handful of playmakers with USL experience including Wal Fall, Lindo Mfeka, Memo Diaz, Jose Hernandez, Jesus Enriquez and Saalih Muhammad.
As for the players leading the front lines for Oakland this season, one name to keep an eye on is Jeremy Bokila who has been capped by the Democratic Republic of Congo Nationa Team 20 times - having scored twice in the 2015 African Cup of Nations to help guide his side to the competition's semifinals.
Orange County SC
Sacramento's 2020 midseason matchup against Orange County was an instant classic.
Down one goal and playing down a man, a resilient Republic FC stormed back to overcome a one-goal deficit with just 10-men to shock OCSC, 2-1, on September 9. Sean Okoli opened the scoring in the first five minutes, but second half strikes from Dariusz Formella and Villyan Bijev secured all three points for the Indomitable Club during its heated playoff push.
Heading into this season, Orange County not only ensured that the heart of its strong 2020 roster is returning, but the club also made some serious moves to bolster its squad on both the offensive and defensive fronts. Specifically, OCSC added to its already dynamic attack with Finnish forward Eero Markkanen, Haitian National Team playmaker Ronaldo Damus, and former SRFC striker and MLS-side Atlanta United forward Adam Jahn.
In 18 all-time meetings across all competitions, Sacramento posts a 9-3-6 record against the SoCal club.
Phoenix Rising FC
Over the last few seasons, no USL Championship club has had more on-field success than Phoenix.
However, despite Rising FC's dominance during league play, Sacramento still has the upper hand in the all-time series - having beaten Phoenix six times over 15 meetings, while only being beaten by the Arizonian juggernaut just four times.
The Indomitable Club last clashed with Rising FC in the 2020 USL Championship Western Conference Quarterfinals with Phoenix prevailing 1-0 after extra time. A deflection off Solomon Asante denied SRFC a spot in the semifinals and brought an end to the Indomitable Club's playoff push for its second piece of silverware.
Rising FC really reinforced its midfield ranks this offseason, signing Aodhan Quinn, Ivan Gutierrez, Arturo Rodriguez and Prince Saydee to compete for minutes alongside the return of Joey Calistri, Jon Bakero, Santi Moar and Kevon Lambert.
The Western Conference Titleholders will be gunning for a swift return to the league final and it certainly helps when prolific goalscorers Solomon Asante and Rufat Dadashov will be leading the front lines of Phoenix's relentless offensive attack.
San Diego Loyal SC
2020 was San Diego's first campaign competing in the USL Championship and head coach Landon Donovan nearly guided his side into the postseason, all the while competing in arguably the toughest division during a shortened season.
But the 16-game season last year only allowed for Sacramento and San Diego to meet once - a nil-nil draw in Southern California on August 1.
Loyal made some massive moves to improve its squad heading into 2021 - including the acquisition of experienced MLS goalkeeper, Trey Muse, on-loan from Seattle Sounders FC. The SoCal club also added some notable names from the Championship as well including midfielder Jack Blake from Real Monarchs, seasoned goal scorer Corey Hertzog from Reno, and forward Niki Jackson who's tallied goals in the USL with Charlotte and MLS with Colorado Rapids.
2021 will be SD's first full season in the Championship after finishing just three points behind LA Galaxy II in last season's Group B standings. San Diego forfeited its final fixture of the season against Phoenix Rising FC in protest to a homophobic slur used by a Rising FC player mid-match.
No Republic FC player will be more excited to be competing against Tacoma four times this season than Dariusz Formella.
In two of Sacramento's games against Defiance in 2020, Formella bagged a brace en route to his team-best eight goals during regular season play.
Like Formella, the boys in Old Glory Red have a history of success against its Pacific Northwest rival. In 18 total meetings across all competitions, Sacramento has been victorious in a dozen of them. In the all-time series, Republic FC posts a 12-3-3 record against Defiance.
However, despite SRFC's dominance, Tacoma did manage to down the Indomitable Club once last season - a 1-0 win for the hosts up in Washington.
Defiance is eyeing a fresh new start this coming campaign, having appointed Wade Webber as the new head coach just last week. A few fresh new faces also join the squad for the upcoming Championship campaign including midfielder Carlos Anguiano who previously played for Portland Timbers 2, former Seattle Sounders FC Academy product Sota Kitahara and goalkeeper Christian Herrera who has previously logged minutes during USL play with Swope Park Rangers - Sporting Kansas City II - in 2018.
Don't miss a minute of the action this season and secure your priority for Major League Soccer. Join our Republic and become an Indomitable Member today! Visit SacRepublicFC.com/becomeamember for more information about how you can join us for the 2021 USL Championship season, Join us for another unforgettable year and enjoy exclusive behind-the-scenes access, benefits, and more.
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United Soccer League Championship Stories from March 3, 2021
- RDA Weekend Recap - Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
- Get to Know: SRFC's Pacific Division - Sacramento Republic FC
- USL Championship Releases 2021 League Alignment Ã¢ÂÂ Republic FC in Pacific Division - Sacramento Republic FC
- Independence Complete Loan Deal for Midfielder Marcelo Palomino - Charlotte Independence
- Phoenix Rising FC Announces 2021 Preseason Schedule - Phoenix Rising FC
- Legion FC Set to Take on Atlanta United FC in Birmingham to Kickstart 2021 Preseason - Birmingham Legion FC
- Roots Division Opponents Announced for 2021 Season - Oakland Roots
- LA Galaxy II Sign Midfielder Victor Valdez - LA Galaxy II
- Miami FC to Compete in Atlantic Division Ahead of 2021 USL Championship Season - Miami FC
- Red Bulls II Bring Aboard Jeremy Rafanello - New York Red Bulls II
- Battery Open King Street Retail Pop-Up - Charleston Battery
- Austin Bold FC Re-Signs Midfielder Amobi Okugo for a Third Season - Austin Bold FC
- FC Tulsa Schedules Preseason Double Dip in Dallas against North Texas SC - FC Tulsa
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