Sacramento Republic FC are riding an eight-game unbeaten run in USL Championship play and have only lost one game this season, but following Saturday’s 3-3 draw against Reno 1868 FC, head coach Mark Briggs was not happy.
“They played well,” Briggs told reporters postgame. “We were the better team, but we have to learn. It’s not good enough to keep saying ‘Next time, next time.’ No, there’s not a next time. There’s that 90 minutes and we should have won the game. But we gave two points away.”
The disappointment stemmed from the circumstances of the game. With Sacramento ahead 3-2 heading into stoppage time, courtesy of a goal from range by midfielder Jaime Villarreal, Aidan Apodaca scored an injury-time equalizer for Reno, who nabbed their first point this season against Sacramento.
“I chose not to speak to the guys [postgame],” Briggs said, when asked what he told his team after the final whistle. “They need to learn. This hurts. I’m furious.”
On the other hand, the only team in the league this season to take points off Reno has been Sacramento, who have a 2-0-1 record against their Nevada rivals who have otherwise been spotless.
And while previous encounters between the teams were hard-fought but not necessarily having the feel of a rivalry game, Saturday’s clash was full of tough tackles and controversy.
“I thought it could have been managed much, much better, but I was not surprised by the intensity and the aggression and the chippiness, to be honest,” Briggs said.
I asked the manager about the officiating, and after a quick quip, Briggs responded very slowly, as he appeared to want to let loose but chose to turn the calls and non-calls that didn’t go Sac Republic’s way as a way to fire up his team to play better.
“Alicia, I think you’re trying to get me fined, aren’t you? I have to be careful what I say. I felt the game could have been managed better by my team, and what I mean by that is certain actions that allow for officials to then make decisions — we can’t put ourselves in positions to allow them to make a decision. I think I’ll leave it at that. I would love to say a lot more, Alicia, but I’m having to bite my tongue and it’s really, really hard.”
Saturday’s match featured the debut of on-loan forward Frank Lopez from OKC Energy FC, and while the Cuban came off the bench late, his trademark aggression was on full display, something Briggs highlighted.
“Obviously we’ve got to get Frank fit and we’ve got to get Frank fit pretty quickly. I think you could all see that. But I thought he just brings an intensity, he brings a workrate, he brings aggression. I think you saw him go in and slide in with the goalkeeper. He ruffles feathers on opposition teams. He’s not a nice guy. He’s a nice guy off the field, but when he goes on that field he’s not a nice guy. We need more of that,” Briggs said.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.