Time is running out for Sacramento Republic FC to qualify for the playoffs.
With a 1-0 loss to San Antonio FC on Saturday night at home, Republic finds themselves in a difficult situation for the remaining nine games in the USL season. Sacramento is currently in sixth place in the Western Conference Pacific Division, four points behind Tacoma Defiance for the fourth and final playoff spot.
The Quails have made the playoffs every year since the club’s inception in 2014. That streak, for now, is on life support, unless something drastic changes. Tacoma has two games in hand on the Republic, but the clubs face three more times over the next month. That will decide Sacramento’s playoff fate.
“It’s difficult,” Sac Republic coach Mark Briggs said. “It’s going to be extremely difficult (to make the playoffs). It’s never over until it’s over, but it’s going to be extremely difficult. … All of our games (the rest of the season) are playoff games. We have put ourselves in a position that all of our games (the rest of the way) are massive games. Simple as that.”
He added, “(Making the playoffs) is the club’s tradition. here are different things that go into that. We are not in a position where we should be. At the same time, we are in a position that we deserve to be (in).”
Sacramento has only scored 27 goals in 23 games this season. Last season, Sacramento scored the same amount of goals in only 16 games. The defense has also played differently. After having one of the strongest defensive units in the USL last season and only allowing 17 goals in 16 games. Sacramento has given up 32 goals in 23 games, including one in the 74th minute when San Antonio midfielder Marcus Epps crossed a ball into the box that was headed in by Kortne Ford.
After San Antonio scored, fans let out a series of boos. More ensued during extra time after a San Antonio player was fouled hard by a Republic player. It caused a scuffle and players were pushed around. Kharlton Belmar and Maalique Foster from Republic were given red cards. Ford, from San Antonio, was also given a red card. The game never resumed.
“Honestly, I just saw a tackle,” Republic midfielder Nabi Kibenguchy said. “Then everyone started grabbing each other. I was trying to go in and separate (everyone) because I’m not one to fight. I just want to play the game of soccer. I felt like the ref lost control of the game (at the end). It’s unfortunate what happened, but we have to move on.”
Sac Republic plays next on the road against Tacoma on Wednesday.