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Rafael Diaz making most of opportunity in goal for Sacramento Republic

Thrust into service, he’s been stellar so far.

David Calvert/Reno 1868 FC (Courtesy of Republic FC)

It’s only been three games, so no need to get ahead of ourselves. Three games is a small sample size in soccer terms.

But Rafael Diaz has started the last three games for Sacramento Republic FC, after starting goalkeeper Adam Grinwis suffered a torn ACL and looks set to miss considerable time, likely the rest of the season. Diaz, who is 28 but has yet to really get a run of more than 12 games in a season as a starter in his pro career, looks like he’s solidifying his grasp on the starting spot for the rest of the year.

In three games of action, Diaz has yet to concede a goal. Again, it’s a small sample size, and the Republic FC defense is finding its footing in front of him, but he’s putting in the work.

The latest display came Wednesday, with Diaz making five saves and one punch in a narrow 1-0 win over Reno 1868 FC on the road.

This video shows the five saves on the night, and the first and last ones in particular basically saved the game for Sacramento.

It won’t be easy, but there’s nine more games left in the regular season and if everything goes right, the playoffs beyond that. At this point, the starting GK spot seems firmly in Diaz’s hands (no pun intended) moving forward, and as a guy who’s bounced around over the years as a backup and has waited for his opportunity, the time is now for him. Judging from how he’s playing so far, conceding no goals and starting out unbeaten, Diaz looks like he’s up for the challenge, and that’s a good omen for Sac Republic as the season progresses.

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