Republic FC take on LA Galaxy teams twice in one week

You could hear it coming from a mile away: “We’re taking one game at a time.”

Of course, Sacramento Republic FC players and coaches entered Saturday’s home game with USL rival LA Galaxy II fully focused. No one was thinking ahead to Tuesday, when Sacramento takes on parent MLS club in the US Open Cup quarter-finals.

A win over the USL team on Saturday night would boost Sacramento’s playoff chances. If David beat Goliath on Tuesday night, Sacramento would be in the final square of the US Open Cup for the first time in team history. All that stands in their way is an MLS team whose combined salary costs close to 20 times more than that of an average USL team.

The stacking schedule of games against Galaxy teams leaves coach Mark Briggs in a weird spot. He really wants to win both games.

“It’s a little strange playing the same organization with two different teams, but those are the cards we’ve been dealt and we have to deal with them,” head coach Mark Briggs told The Bee.

“We don’t want to give away (our whole strategy) for Tuesday, but we prepare in exactly the same way for every game. We’re focused on Saturday night… but we need to make sure we’re fresh. The players understand that we will have to manage the game over different periods and that we cannot do everything and press for 90 minutes. We have to be smart.

Going for the Republic is their best form in recent memory. Since early May, the team have lost only once and conceded just two goals in eight games.

Midfielder Nick Ross, a Scotland native signed from El Paso Locomotive last offseason, said Sacramento’s defensive record is impressive for any league.

“I think the change in formation helped a lot,” Ross said. “We’ve moved to a three-man defense which has made us much stronger defensively and we’re also starting to put away our chances. We get results, and once you win a game, you can kind of keep rolling and riding that wave.

When asked what a deep US Cup run could mean for him and the team, Ross lit up and admitted there was a boring answer to be had. He couldn’t do that.

“Look, of course it’s on our minds. But we don’t want to come into this game after a loss or a draw,” he said.

If the Quails need inspiration for Tuesday’s clash, they won’t have to look too far back. In the cup’s previous round against fellow MLS side San Jose, they proved they could punch above their weight, beating the Earthquakes 2-0 on May 25.

But true to form, defender Lee Desmond insisted all he cares about is Saturday’s game.

“I think that win over San Jose gave us confidence, but it’s a completely different team,” Desmond said. “You know we lost some stupid points at home so this next game is a potential banana peel. We want to make sure we win on Saturday.

Whenever there is a short delay between matches, as was the case with the Galaxy clashes, there will inevitably be concerns about fitness and recovery. Briggs is counting on the team’s newfound depth to lead the Quails through some wild days in the club’s history.

“The beauty of this team is that we have 20 outfield players available where I can play any of them and I feel comfortable that we can take care of business,” he said. . “It’s very lucky for me as a coach. I think this group is hungry. They always want more and are never satisfied. So we have to keep pushing them.

This story was originally published June 18, 2022 4:14 a.m.

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Kevin V. Nguyen is a summer reporting intern for The Sacramento Bee. A native of San Jose, he has been recognized by the Journalism Association of Community Colleges for his coverage of higher education, sports and local news for La Voz News, where he also served as editor.