Sacramento Republic FC will host National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) side CD Aguiluchos USA for Round 2 of the 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup this Wednesday. This marks the third season that the Republic will compete in the 103 year old tournament. The Republic were bounced out of the fourth round the past two seasons by the San Jose Earthquakes.
Getting to Know the Opponent
CD Aguiluchos are an Oakland, CA based club, competing in the Golden Gate Conference of the NPSL. The club began play in 2013 and is named in honor of CD Aguila of the El Salvador premier league. Sacramento soccer fans may be familiar with CD Aguiluchos as they are a frequent rival of Sacramento Gold FC, who also play in the Golden Gate Conference.
The only other appearance in the U.S. Open Cup for CD Aguiluchos was a first round 1-0 defeat in 2014 against the Ventura County Fusion of the Premier Development League (PDL). Last week, CD Aguiluchos defeated San Francisco City FC 3-0 to claim their first ever win in America's oldest soccer tournament.
What to Expect
The Republic should be able to handle CD Aguiluchos this Wednesday, but nothing is for certain in the U.S. Open Cup. This tournament is built for exciting upsets. Just ask the Portland Timbers.
We may see the Republic trot out some new faces for the match who haven't received much playing time this season. New additions such as goalkeeper Evan Newton and midfielder Matt LaGrassa could see some action. Unfortunately, this may not be the case according to coach Paul Buckle.
"I'm not a great lover of changing things", said Buckle after the match last Saturday. "Dominick could probably do with a break...Evan has been fabulous in training...so there might be a change there."
Regardless of who plays or starts, the Republic need to score and score often. The Republic have played well in the second round of the U.S. Open Cup in the past. In 2014, the Republic narrowly defeated the Ventura County Fusion 2-1. The Republic fared better in the 2015 tournament against the Sonoma County Sol. Forward Thomas Stewart scored a hat trick that night to lead the way to a 4-2 victory.
The Republic defense has been remarkable this season which should get them past Rounds 2 and 3. If the offense can put together some shots on goal, I predict a 4-0 Republic victory with Stewart scoring a brace.
Please tell us your thoughts and predictions on the Republic's chances in the U.S. Open Cup this season.