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Rafael Diaz, Kharlton Belmar Represent Sacramento Republic FC on World Cup Qualifier Stage

Photo via the Sacramento Republic FC

With the 2021 USL season opener a little less than a month away, the Sacramento Republic FC have a pair of players currently missing valuable training camp time. Under normal circumstances, this would be a bad thing.

But the circumstances for goalkeeper Rafael Diaz and forward Kharlton Belmar are far from normal.

After earning the starting keeper spot for the club last season, a grind since signing with the club in February of 2018, Diaz spent significant time this offseason with the Dominican Republic Men’s National Team. Born in Inconnue, Diaz impressed with a clean sheet in an international friendly match against #30 ranked Serbia in January.

This past Wednesday, Diaz got the start between the sticks in the Dominican Republic’s World Cup qualifier match against Dominica. Once again, it was a clean sheet shutout for the 29-year-old, who is hopeful to get the start again in tomorrow’s qualifier against Anguilla.

Belmar, who signed with the Republic before the 2020 USL season, was called up to the Grenadian Men’s National Team for the first time and immediately inserted into the starting 11 in a World Cup qualifier against El Salvador.

Belmar logged 63 minutes in his international debut, forcing a save on a scoring chance late in the first half.

“It’s fantastic for the club that we have international players on our roster and representing their respective countries,” Republic FC head coach Mark Briggs told KHTK.

Despite missing training camp time with the club, Briggs says that the international games give Diaz & Belmar an advantage.

“It puts them in a great spot from a confidence standpoint and ahead of the game getting competitive minutes.”

The Republic FC will have both Diaz & Belmar back for their USL season opener against the LA Galaxy II on Friday, April 30th. Sacramento will welcome fans back to Papa Murphy’s Park for a friendly against Real Monarchs SLC on Saturday, April 24th.

Their preseason officially kicks off Saturday against Real Salt Lake.