After a promising start to the 2021 USL Championship regular season, Sacramento Republic FC have hit a real skid of late.
They’ve picked up one point in their last four games, three of those at home, most recently a 3-1 loss against Orange County SC on Saturday at Heart Health Park.
Say what you will about the level of play for Republic FC in those games — two of the three losses were narrow 1-0 defeats and the third came with Sacramento playing down a man for nearly a half — but alarm bells are starting to ring for the team.
“Obviously it was a disappointing evening, for a number of reasons. But credit is due to the players that gave everything tonight in the second half. They gave everything and you can’t ask for any more,” head coach Mark Briggs told reporters after Saturday’s game.
The team did emphasize the fight in the 2nd half after Dan Casey’s controversial red card in the 52nd minute, but they also expressed frustration with the level of officiating overall on the night.
Nevertheless, the bottom line is that Sacramento aren’t getting the results they need in an ultra-competitive Pacific Division.
“Ultimately it’s not good enough, and the buck falls with me. Yes, the players can do better and yes we can all collectively do better, but ultimately the buck falls with me. But I can promise you I’ll figure this out,” said Briggs.
Tucker Bone, who came off the bench at the half with Briggs trying to find a spark in the game and scored Republic FC’s goal, was blunt in assessing the game.
“Our fans don’t deserve that,” he said. “Sacramento doesn’t deserve that. It’s a tough loss for sure. Going down is never easy, but being able to provide a little bit of a spark in the second half is something we were looking for.”
With a few years as a pro under his belt, Bone explained the fixture congestion starting up and the difficult results of late can wear on the players.
“Physically, it’s tough,” he said. “...You have to stay focused. You know, day in and day out, especially when you get back home, you got to make sure you’re, you’re getting the hydration you’re eating right and you’re really getting your legs up and taking care of all the little things. It’s mentally taxing too. You got to find your releases off the field and take your mind off the game for a little bit. Even though it’s been a rough few games for us, I think it’s good just for the team to be together frequently play, getting to know each other and bonding over tough experiences. It’s something you need if we’re going to grow at all.”
Briggs has also emphasized that with nearly half the roster turning over in the offseason, they’ll need time to really coalesce on the field as a team.
But with fans starting to wonder, even if extenuating factors or just plain bad luck is contributing to the poor results, when Sac Republic will get back on track, Briggs says he understands the discontent.
“I completely agree with them and as I said before, they deserve more,” he said. “This club deserves more, the fans deserve more. And I can promise you they will get more. We will get this right, because there’s too many good players at this club to not get it right. I apologize for the performance tonight on behalf of everybody, but ultimately it’s me. We will get this right, and I can promise that to every supporter of this football club.”
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