March 13, 2023 – United Soccer League Championship (USL) – Sacramento Republic FC News Release
Republic FC comes home from El Paso with all three points in hand, winning the season opener 1-0 over Locomotive FC to ring in the 2023 season. It was a strong effort from the club on all fronts, pressuring well in the first half before strong defensive play kept a clean sheet win intact in the second.
The result was a strong beginning to the season ahead. El Paso is seldom an easy place to play, and historically a city where Sacramento’s had trouble. Saturday marked the club’s first ever win at Southwest University Park, and second all-time over Locomotive FC with the first coming on opening night in 2022. Six players made their club debuts and showed strong – including Open Tryout signee Aldair Sanchez in his first career pro appearance. As a bonus, the match marked just the third time in club history Republic FC has recorded a clean sheet on opening night after 2021 at Galaxy II and 2016 at Sounders 2.
“This is a really hard place to come. As a club, we haven’t been very successful here over the years. So I’m really of the guys tonight,” said Head Coach Mark Briggs after the match. “They showed grit, they showed determination, and they showed the mentality that we’ve asked of them all week. And on top of that they showed quality when it mattered.”
Sacramento worked hard in training camp to establish a connection among the new players on the squad, who both started and finished the game’s decisive chance. Netted by Russell Cicerone, the match’s lone score showed off the strong chemistry already established between new teammates that took advantage of each individual’s strengths – Arnold Lopez’s ability to break up plays and find a teammate waiting for the rebound, Rodrigo Lopez’s awareness of Jack Gurr on the wing, and Gurr’s recognition of where he knew his teammates would be at the end and put in a perfect cross. What resulted was a Cicerone score from the back post, making him the ninth player in club history to score in his opening night debut.
“Yeah, I mean, it was a great team goal,” Cicerone said of his debut score with the club. “I think we built through the midfield really good and Roro [Lopez] slipped it into Jack [Gurr]. And you know Jack, when he gets in those areas he puts in great balls. One of the things I’m good at is finding the soft spots, getting in good areas, making good runs in the box and I was rewarded with a great ball from Jack….
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