Sacramento Republic FC have had a stop-start opening to their season, but they’re ready to get back at it on Saturday when they take on Orange County SC in Irvine.
It doesn’t hurt that they’ve won their opening two games, and with 10 days in between each of the first three games, it’s been an unusual prep run for the team.
“It’s been an intense week. You can see we’ve got a few players back from injury and we just pushed the energy level a bit more to get back into the team,” head coach Mark Briggs said after training on Friday.
The gradual ramp up to the season has been a challenge, admits Briggs.
“It’s not easy, because you get going, then you get the adrenaline, you get pumped for the game and then you don’t play again for another 10 days,” he said. “So we’ve had to come up with unique ways to keep them busy, keep them focused, keep them occupied. But the players have reacted well to what we’ve given them and like I said, this week’s been really good, really intense.”
Defender Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu was pleased with how the coaches have handled the gaps between games.
“I gotta hand it to our coaching staff. I think to the frustration of some of the players, we want to train,” he said. “And I think the coaching staff, the training staff has done a really good job of managing our workload, to understand that, yes, we have 10 days off in between games. We don’t want to be physically or mentally fatigued going into games when you have that much time off, because you’re not in the normal rhythm of the season. And so they’ve done a good job of managing the day-to-day and planning out weeks.”
And now, with the third game of the season upon Republic FC, they’ll be looking to play spoilers to Orange County for their grand reopening to fans in their home opener.
Both Briggs and Wheeler-Omiunu paid tribute to the Sacramento fans with a sly dig at the OCSC fans.
“Now I don’t think their fans will be as good as our fans, but it is a home opener and they’ll be behind them, they’ll be trying to bring them home to three points. So we’ve got to go there and we’ve got to manage the atmosphere,” said Briggs.
Wheeler-Omiunu was more blunt.
“No disrespect to Orange County, I’ve never played there, but I doubt they’re going to be louder than our fans,” he said.
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