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Rodrigo Lopez: “I’m Not Here for Advertisement…I Really Want to Help the Team Win”

Photo by: Matt George

Monday afternoon, outside the Sacramento Republic FC headquarters in downtown Sacramento, the Republic held a press conference announcing the return of Rodrigo Lopez, and introducing new club head coach Mark Briggs. Media and fans gathered to celebrate the news before both Lopez and Briggs sat down with KHTK for an exclusive interview.

Listen to the interview here:

Lopez was the first ever signing by the Sacramento Republic FC back in 2013, and helped lead the club to their only USL Championship in the team’s short history that inaugural season. After two full seasons with Sacramento, Lopez moved on to peruse his personal dream of playing in Mexico’s top league; Liga MX.

Now, just months before the start of the 2020 USL season, Lopez is back and, he claims, better than he has ever been.

“I think people need to realize that I’m not here for advertisement or to get people in the stands. I really want to help the team win. I want to put Sacramento back on top of the table where it belongs and to hopefully lift another cup for the city.”

Coach Briggs echoed Lopez’s statement, “His first stint here was extremely successful but we are now in 2020. So 2014 was amazing and great for the club and great for Rodrigo, but we brought (him) here because of what he brings to the table right now and we think he will compliment the style of football we want to play,”.

Briggs expressed that he wants the Republic to play a fast, attacking style of soccer this season, which fits Lopez’s skill set perfectly. He scored 20 goals and tallied 13 assists for Sacramento in his first two seasons with the club.

Lopez also provides the club with an elite set-piece specialist, who’s career can be epitomized by one moment, “The Miracle at Bonney” back in 2014, where he curled in a game-winning free kick against the LA Galaxy 2 to keep the Republic’s championship hopes alive.

Of the many things Lopez brings with him from his time in Mexico, leadership is a major focus heading into this season, “I’m not different. I am the same as every other player on this squad. I have to bring it every practice, every training session, every game to earn my spot”.

Sacramento also announced Monday that their USL 2020 home opener will be March 7th against FC Tulsa. Both Lopez and Briggs are anxious to get out onto the pitch and get things started.

“I can’t wait. I’m counting down the days to the first day of preseason to be honest,” said Briggs, “We’ll go back three weeks (from) today. For me it’s about getting the players on the field, creating the culture, creating the environment that I believe will make this club successful,”.

Thanks to his former time with the club, and a consistent effort to actively follow the Republic’s success since his departure, Lopez says he is, “familiar” with the current roster and how they performed last season, “I watch a lot of games…obviously Sacramento is one that I really do like to watch. They have really good players coming back so I think it is going to be an exciting season. Obviously now with our new coach I think it is going to be very exciting for the fans to watch, very entertaining and we re going to push for another championship. I think we have a really good chance”.

As excited as the Sacramento Republic FC are to join the MLS in a few years, they aren’t waiting around for success. Winning in 2020 is the top priority, and they plan to prove that when the season kicks off in March.