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2020 Sacramento Republic player postmortem: Frank Lopez

Forward’s arrival was a gamble...did it pay off?

Courtesy of Republic FC

Frank Lopez was a late addition to Sacramento Republic’s squad in 2020, the stocky forward joining on loan from OKC Energy in September to see out the season.

Lopez has been something of an enigma in the USL Championship. With LA Galaxy II, he looked like he had an outside shot of impressing enough to maybe get a first-team contract, but he ended up being sent on loan to San Antonio FC last year, effectively ending his stint in Southern California. San Antonio didn’t want to sign him outright this year, so he went to OKC, who have a track record of successful forwards, but he didn’t play a ton this year, and they were evidently fine with letting him go on loan.

Lopez didn’t get a lot of time to gel with his teammates, and even Mark Briggs admitted that Lopez would need to get to speed very quickly in his short time with the club. Did that happen? It doesn’t really seem like it did.

Here are Lopez’s statistics with Sac Republic:

Frank Lopez 2020 Statistics

2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
Regular Season 5 1 174 0 0 7 2 1 0
Playoffs 1 0 5 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 6 1 179 0 0 7 2 1 0

I get what Briggs was looking for in Lopez — a change of pace, a different profile of striker, and one who wasn’t afraid to pester opponents and perhaps draw a red card. The Sac Republic squad had a ton of other qualities, but they didn’t have the player who would try and get in opponents’ heads, and Lopez could do that like nobody’s business.

However, with only a handful of games before the end of the season, and just one start, Lopez really didn’t get enough time to really click with his new team, and it didn’t quite come together. His start, against Tacoma Defiance in the penultimate regular season game, was a promising sign, but in the end he got five minutes of run in the playoff game and didn’t score a goal during his time with Sacramento.

In the end, I don’t think it’s Lopez’s fault he never got going all the way, playing 45 minutes or more just twice in six games. I think if he had joined in July and really gotten a long run, even as the first bench option, his chance of success would have improved on the field.

At the same time, I’m not sure that I would blame Sac Republic, either. The whole season was strange and 2020 was a time to improvise and try things out. They tried this move out and it didn’t work — it happens.

Lopez’s loan has ended and it’s unclear if he’ll stay at OKC Energy or head out to pastures anew for 2021. Like I said, he’s a forward I like a lot and I think he has the ability to really hit a run of form if he gets some sustained playing time. At the same time, the fact that he’s now changing teams twice a year seems to be a concern. He’s still just 25, so he has time to show what he can do, but we’ll see how his career twists and turns from here.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.