Preview: Republic FC vs. Reno 1868 FC
The playoff-bound boys in Old Glory Red head to Nevada for a heavyweight bout this Saturday night
At a Glance: #RNOvSAC
Saturday, September 26
6:30 p.m. PT kickoff
Greater Nevada Field, Reno, Nevada
How to Watch: KQCA My58, Estrella TV Sacramento (Spanish), ESPN+ (Digital)
What's the latest on the team?
Republic FC (7-1-5, 26 pts) solidified its spot in the 2020 USL Championship postseason last week - a seventh straight trip to the playoffs for the boys in Old Glory Red - but the squad is still in search of capturing the top spot in Group A and can take a massive leap towards doing so this coming weekend.
This Saturday, Mark Briggs' men take their nine-game unbeaten run into Reno to clash with first place 1868 FC and try to cut the gap at the top down to two points. The match - set for a 6:30 p.m. PT kickoff - is not a must-win for the team but if Sacramento and Reno play to a draw then all the Nevadan club would need is one point in its last two matches to secure first.
The Indomitable Club's current nine-game undefeated streak ties the third-longest in club history as Sacramento has not been downed since a July 25 loss to LA Galaxy II in Southern California - the team's only defeat this season. During the current run, Republic FC has collected three clean sheets and over its last six outings scored an average of 2.5 goals per game.
Dariusz Formella has a team-high six goals in 2020.
SRFC's most recent match - a dramatic 3-3 draw against Tacoma Defiance at Papa Murphy's Park last weekend - was headlined by Rodrigo Lopez finding a late equalizer in the 90th minute to help his side claim a point in the push for first place.
The visitors took an early lead before the offensive eruption began that included three second half strikes from Sacramento. Villyan Bijev bagged his third goal of the season before Khlarton Belmar netted an attempt from the penalty spot on the hour mark to give the hosts a 2-1 lead. Defiance responded with two goals to grab a late advantage but a resilient Republic FC side stormed back on the cusp of stoppage time when RoRo leveled the match to ensure both sides would share the spoils last Sunday night.
What about the hosts?
Reno 1868 FC (10-2-1, 31 pts) have been one of the league's top teams all season and as of late, the Nevadan club's offense has been simply unstoppable.
Tied with the most goals scored in the league this season with 38 alongside fellow offensive juggernaut Phoenix Rising FC, Reno can't seem to stop finding the back of the net as head coach Ian Russell's side have netted an average of four goals per game over its last seven fixtures.
Kharlton Belmar scored his first career goal for SRFC last weekend against Tacoma.
Most recently, 1868 FC downed Portland Timbers 2 in Oregon 5-2 with Christiano Francois bagging a brace for his side on the road. Two weeks prior to the victory over the weekend in the Pacific Northwest was a 7-1 thrashing of T2 in Reno on September 5.
With the exception of the first three matches against Republic FC - two 1-0 victories for Sacramento and a 3-3 draw last game - Reno has been flawless and racked up 10 wins in 10 matches and are on course for the best record in the Championship this season.
It's fitting that these two regional rivals are racing for the top spot in Group A with so few fixtures remaining during the regular season.
Reno has the current advantage with the first tiebreaker being total wins as 1868 FC (10) has a three-game lead on Republic FC's seven victories so Sacramento has to finish strong and hope its Donner Pass Derby rival can slip up sometime before the postseason.
The Indomitable Club seizing the summit of the group is still very much a reality as SRFC claimed back-to-back 1-0 victories in the first two meetings this season. The third of four regular season clashes this campaign featured a late equalizer from Reno to cap off a six-goal thriller at Papa Murphy's Park in mid-September.
Drew Skundrich has started every game for SRFC this season.
Across all competitions, he boys in Old Glory Red have been victorious in four of their last five trips to Reno.
Overall (all competitions): 7-5-2 (GF: 20; GA: 20)
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