Republic FC took to the pitch for its first scrimmage on Friday against San Jose Earthquakes. The clubs went into the tune-up at different points in their respective preseasons, with San Jose starting in early January and Republic FC in just its second week. The Indomitable Club earned a 1-1 draw, with Russell Cicerone scoring the game-tying goal from a Jack Gurr corner kick.
With San Jose getting closer to its February 24 season opener, the Quakes rolled out a near season-ready lineup, comprised of mainly first-team players including 2023 MLS All-Star Cristian Espinoza. But for Republic FC Head Coach Mark Briggs, the players on the opposing bench didn’t matter. The focus was on tracking the progress and development of his squad.
“We asked the players to give their maximum effort for 45 minutes, to give everything they had in the tank for 45 minutes,” said Briggs. “From a fitness standpoint, we wanted to get everyone some good, intense movement in their legs since we’ve only been back for seven days. And then on top of that, we asked the guys to have the courage to do the things that we’ve been working on for seven days, and they did. They played well and they did what we asked of them. So overall, it was a really pleasing 45 minutes for everyone.”
Building on last year’s stalwart defensive performance that gave up the fewest goals across the league, Briggs was impressed with that same effort and strength in the club’s first competition: “As a group, we defended well again, we looked comfortable, and we were difficult to break down.”
With each player getting at least 45 minutes of action, the team’s youngest additions seized the opportunity to show they could compete at the highest levels of the game. When asked about standout performances, Briggs praised 16-year-olds Chibi Ukaegbu and Blake Willey, and 13-year-old Da’vian Kimbrough. All three signed their first professional contracts with the club in 2023 after rising through the club’s youth academy. Three players from the club’s U-17 academy team also saw substantial minutes in Friday’s match, and earned valuable experience against a top-flight team.
Forward Russell Cicerone and defender Jack Gurr picked up where they left off last season, connecting for the game-tying goal on a set-piece corner kick. The duo are among the 17 returning players from 2023, giving Mark Briggs a strong, consistent foundation…