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Republic FC Head Coach Mark Briggs; “The Only Thing That Matters to Us is Being Prepared for Reno”

Photo via the Sacramento Republic FC

After training on a very smokey Friday morning at Papa Murphy’s Park in Sacramento, Republic FC head coach Mark Briggs spoke with KHTK about the significance of, and preparation for, Saturday’s battle with Reno 1868 FC.

With both clubs tied at the top of the USL Group A table, the Republic know that a loss tomorrow almost guarantees a second place finish.

To this point, Sacramento has been the only club to defeat Reno, with two victories over their regional rival this season. The first; a 1-0 finish at Papa Murphys Park in July, where the match’s lone goal was scored from the penalty spot in extra time by striker Cameron Iwasa.

The second win, another 1-0 result, in Reno on August 12th, also featured a goal from the penalty spot. It was Villyan Bijev who converted for his first of two goals this season. The match also featured a number of top class saves from Republic goalkeeper Rafael Diaz.

Although Sacramento has enjoyed a lot of recent success against Reno, Briggs doesn’t put much stock into those results.

“Honestly those two games are irrelevant now. They are in the past. They don’t matter – It will be a battle between the two best teams in this group, and also two of the better teams in the whole league.”

There are plenty of cliches that coaches use when talking with the media, like, “We are only focused on what we can control” and, “We are taking things one game at a time” for example. But Briggs spoke openly about paying attention to the standings and the advantage Reno has, having played one less match than Sacramento to this point.

“We say we don’t look at it but, let’s be honest, we do look at it. Everybody knows where we are. Everybody knows what we’ve got. And everybody knows the points we have, and the importance of the game. But, it’s 90 minutes of football, and tomorrow the only thing that matters to us in that 90 minutes is being prepared for Reno. Being prepared for what we think they will throw at us – We’ve just got to turn up, be ready to go, not make any excuses and try to get three points.”

Sacramento is coming off a grueling 2-1 victory over Orange County SC on Wednesday night, their 6th straight win, while Reno enjoyed the night off. Briggs discussed that advantage their opponents have heading into Saturday night.

“We went down to 10 men after 64 minutes – that’s draining on (our) bodies physically and also mentally. But I said to the players this morning; after the 65th minute on Wednesday, we had 68% possession vs (Orange County’s) 32%. So I challenged them – Can we do that without getting a man sent off, with 11 men on the field? So whatever pissed you off, whatever got you in that frame of mind, that’s the frame of mind we have to get in tomorrow when we kick off.”

Briggs is alluding to veteran Rodrigo Lopez, receiving a red card for an aggressive tackle from behind on Wednesday. With the card comes a one match suspension, so Sacramento will be without the crafty midfielder on Saturday.

“Roro went off after 65 minutes and, whatever happened in the players mind, whatever that was, we played some of the best football we’ve played. So yes, Roro is a big miss, but at the same time, I thought Jaime Villarreal the other night was absolutely phenomenal. So it’s an opportunity right? That’s the game of football. Roro’s made a mistake, or referee error, whatever it was, he’s suspended now tomorrow so it’s an opportunity for somebody else and grab the shirt with both hands. Jaime did that the other night so let’s see if he can do that tomorrow.”

Kickoff for round three of the Sacramento Republic FC vs Reno 1868 FC is scheduled for 7:30 PM Saturday night from Papa Murphys Park.

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