Preview: Republic FC vs. Reno 1868 FC
The boys in Old Glory Red are poised to snag sole possession of first place in Group A if Mark Briggs' men claim a third straight win over their regional rivals this season
At a Glance: #SACvRNO
Saturday, September 12
7:30 p.m. PT kickoff
Papa Murphy's Park, Sacramento, California
How to Watch: KQCA My58, Estrella TV Sacramento (Spanish), ESPN+ (Digital)
Virtual Watch Party RSVP
What's the latest on the team?
Republic FC (7-1-3, 24 pts) tied an all-time club record in dramatic fashion on Wednesday night when the Indomitable Club extended its current winning streak to six straight victories after completing a thrilling comeback at Papa Murphy's Park, 2-1.
Six straight wins is an accomplishment that hasn't been replicated by the boys in Old Glory Red since the inaugural campaign in 2014 - a season that ended with Sacramento hoisting the USL Championship trophy.
A win looked difficult to obtain when Mark Briggs' men fell behind in the fifth minute and Rodrigo Lopez saw a straight red card in the second half. But a resilient Republic FC side stormed back and overcame the one-goal deficit when a blistering Kharlton Belmar effort was redirected off Dariusz Formella - who netted his team-best fifth goal on the year - and into the back of the net to level the match at 1-1.
Drew Skundrich has been on the pitch for every second of the club's 2020 regular season campaign - a team-best 990 minutes.
It took all of eight minutes later for 10-men Sacramento to stun the visitors who were leading for much of the match when Jaime Villarreal spotted Villyan Bijev on the wing and shifty playmaker rifled an attempt that nicked off the inside of the near post and past the visiting goalkeeper to gift SRFC the win and ensure all three points were headed to the Indomitable Club.
What about the visitors?
Reno 1868 FC (8-2-0, 24 pts) has been one of the toughest teams to beat in the league and are unbeaten on the season when the Nevadan club isn't up against Republic FC.
With the exception of both 1-0 wins by the Indomitable Club, Reno has been untouchable against its opponents and is one of the most well-rounded teams in the entire USL Championship. Not many teams are as dangerous on both ends of the pitch as Head Coach Ian Russell's side.
Kharlton Belmar netted his second career assist with SRFC during Wednesday's comeback win against OCSC.
Offensively, Reno has scored the third-most goals in the entire league with 27 and are fresh off a 7-1 thumping of Portland Timbers 2. T2 did have to play 35 minutes of the match one man down but a tenacious 1868 FC team were already up 5-0 by then. Both Foster Langsdorf and Corey Hertzog found the back of the net against Portland, elevating both players' goalscoring tally on the year to a team-high five strikes apiece.
Defensively, Reno is just as solid as it is on the attacking end and the 10 goals surrendered by the group all season is currently tied for third-fewest in the Western Conference alongside Orange County SC. Just once during the entirety of the 2020 USL Championship season has 1868 FC allowed more than a single goal during a match.
The two regional rivals have a rich history of creating some memorable matches and this season has been no different.
Both previous meetings ended well for Republic FC as Sacramento seized back-to-back 1-0 wins to take the first two of four total regular season matchups in 2020. Saturday night's clash, the third game this campaign between the two clubs - and final bout in the California Capital - will solidify one sides' spot at the summit of Group A with a win.
Ashkanov Apollon driving against the Reno defender earlier this season.
Republic FC and 1868 FC are currently level on 24 points so a victory for either side will ensure a three-point lead at the top of the group.
Overall (all competitions): 7-5-1 (GF: 17; GA: 17)
Pregame Show and Virtual Watch Party
Watch the match with fellow Republic FC supporters during the Virtual Watch Party simulcast during the contest. Thirty minutes before kickoff, Live from the Pitch with Connor Sutton - the club's new pregame show on Facebook - will give fans a new matchday perspective with interviews, Q&A with club insiders, and live look-ins to warm-ups.
During the match, fans can join the club's virtual watch party simulcast where they can interact with other fans, participate in games and contests, and be features in the club's match telecast while cheering for the boys in Old Glory Red.
To join a watch party, fans can RSVP at SacRepublic.com/virtual-watch-parties.
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