In what seems like a case of déjà vu, Sacramento Republic FC will open up the season on the road again against the Seattle Sounders 2, traveling to Starfire Stadium to begin their 2016 campaign just as they did in 2015. Although S2 came out on top in last year's season opener, the Republic got the best of S2 throughout the season, coming away with two wins and one loss. This Friday marks the fourth ever meeting between the two clubs.
Before we get to Friday's contest, let's take a look back at the history between the Republic and S2.
March 21, 2015
Last year's Republic season opener, which was also S2's inaugural match at Starfire Stadium, was a story of two halves. The first half had the Republic dominating the field of play but unable to score. The Republic had some chances, with good looks from defender James Kiffe and former Republic forward Justin Braun, but they could not capitalize. The second half was a disaster for the Republic defense, allowing four goals.
S2 started the scoring first with forward Andy Craven putting one just out of reach of former goalkeeper Patrick McLain in the 49th minute. Justin Braun was able to equalize with a low shot in the 64th minute. Unfortunately, that's as close as the Republic would get to getting points out of the match, as S2 converted three unanswered goals to finish out regulation.
Republic midfielder Octavio Guzman converted a free kick in stoppage time before the match ended with a 4-2 victory for S2. It was not the debut the 2014 USL champions were hoping for, but the Republic would have other opportunities to regain some points against S2 later that season.
May 09, 2015
The Republic were looking for some payback at home for their second meeting with S2, and tensions were running high. Former defender Mickey Daly received a yellow card for shoving S2 forward Andy Craven, and then S2 midfielder Giuliano Frano, now with the Whitecaps FC 2, was ejected after receiving two yellow cards.
The Republic defense was much stronger than in their first encounter with S2, particularly goalkeeper Patrick McLain, who made six saves. The Republic would go on to win 3-0, sadly with goals from players no longer on the squad. Nemanja Vuković, Rodrigo Lopez and Adnan Gabeljic (whereabouts unknown) landed on the score card but have since moved on from the Republic.
August 01, 2015
The final match against S2 - and the first for Coach Paul Buckle - resulted in another shutout at Bonney Field. Forward Thomas Stewart opened the scoring on an assist from former midfielder Rodrigo Lopez. Interestingly, the assist from Lopez made him the all-time USL assists leader. Stewart would find the net again in the second half against a 10-man S2 squad that was weakened by a red card to defender Amadou Sanyang.
The Republic started the three match series against S2 poorly, but found their stride and ended with consecutive shutouts for the 2015 season. As the season progressed, the matches themselves also increased in intensity. The Republic will play S2 three times again this year, with two matches at Bonney Field. It will be interesting to see if the rivalry will be just as intense.
Please let us know what you think about the history between the Republic and Sounders 2 in the comments below.