There was palpable relief when Sacramento Republic FC posted their first win of the season, Sunday over Reno 1868 FC, by a 1-0 scoreline.
Yes, Cameron Iwasa’s dramatic stoppage-time penalty was the only thing separating the teams on the scoresheet on the day, but it was a deserved win nonetheless.
And the defense and goalkeeping deserve a share of the credit for that just desserts, too.
It was the first clean sheet for the team this season, which has been sporting new faces under new coach Mark Briggs in 2020. Adam Grinwis is the new goalkeeper, and after a shaky night against Tacoma Defiance, made a save and two clearances against Reno, while teenager Hayden Sargis has been a fixture, and Tomas Hilliard-Arce has been present the past two games in the back, too. As has Ash Apollon, converted from winger to wide defender.
I think while Sacramento maintained a fairly consistent roster year to year with some notable upgrades, it’s worth remembering through the first two draws of the year, there were a lot of new faces in the back. It will take time for them to gel, and perhaps the first sign of that came in the impressive performance against Reno.
Here’s video of Grinwis’ save against Reno. While a shot was taken here on goal, which the goalkeeper stopped, it’s worth noting the swarming scramble back on defense was present throughout the game for Republic FC.
It’s just one 90-minute performance, but the cohesion of the defense, going back to a four-man unit on the backline after a five-man group in the Tacoma match, was excellent and Grinwis didn’t put a foot wrong to preserve the shutout.
It’s promising, and while the next opponent happens to be an MLS2 team in LA Galaxy II, take Los Dos lightly at your peril. They’re coming off a road win over San Diego Loyal, their second road win out of three this season, and while the youthful team is full of names you’ve never heard of, their ability to string together passes is very good, and they may or may not have their shooting boots on. With this being the first road trip of Sac Republic’s season, it will be an interesting test in a new-look defensive unit looking to build into a bonafide contender this year.
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