Sacramento Republic FC Head Coach Mark Briggs celebrates Wednesday night's Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup victory against Phoenix Rising FC that sent his side into the Round of 16 in this year's tournament. | Photo courtesy Sacramento Republic FC
Sacramento Republic FC advanced to the Round of 16 in the 2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday night as it took a 2-0 victory against fellow USL Championship club Phoenix Rising FC at Heart Health Park. Up next, the 2014 Championship title winners will try to advance to the Quarterfinals of the tournament for the first time in their history having twice fallen at this stage before.
Ahead of the draw – which will air live at 8:30 p.m. ET on Futbol Americas on ESPN Plus – here’s a look at the three potential opponents from Major League Soccer that Republic FC could be matched up with, each of which it has faced previously in the competition in its history.
The Lowdown: The Quakes advance to the Round of 16 after an epic penalty shootout on Wednesday night, with goalkeeper Matt Bersano scoring the decisive goal in the 11th round to send the visitors past Seattle Sounders FC 10-9 from the spot at Starfire Stadium. San Jose is in a state of transition currently after the departure of former Head Coach Matias Almeyda, but that change appears to have brought some addition stability with the side boasting recent league wins against the Sounders and Colorado Rapids in recent weeks.
The History: Open Cup matchups between Republic FC and the Quakes got back to the start of Sacramento’s history, with San Jose having claimed a 2-1 win in the Fourth Round in 2014 to end the Indomitable Club’s first foray into the tournament. There have been some epic contests in the past between the NorCal rivals, including a heartbreaking shootout win for the Quakes in 2015 after Sacramento held a two-goal lead before Chris Wondolowski scored twice to level for the hosts, and a 4-3 victory for the Quakes in 2019 that saw Sacramento score twice in the opening 15 minutes to hold the lead before the hosts rallied at PayPal Park.
Matchup Potential: Given the prior history of the three Open Cup meetings between the sides, Sacramento might fancy another go at the Quakes with a view to turning the tables. Sacramento has never been drawn at home to San Jose in their prior meetings, too, and if that happens it could add an extra edge to the NorCal clash.
The Lowdown: The Galaxy had to rally to take a 3-2 victory on Wednesday night against California United Strikers FC at Championship Soccer Stadium as Dejan Joveljic scored twice from the penalty spot and Owen Lambe – loaned from the LA Galaxy II – scored his first goal for the Galaxy. Head Coach Greg Vanney’s side has made a solid start overall to the new campaign, sitting in third place in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference, but it has had difficulty scoring goals at times, with only 11 in 10 games despite the presence of legendary Mexico National Team forward Chicharito Hernandez in the attack.
The History: These two teams have met once previously in the Open Cup at the same stage in 2017 when a pair of early second-half goals by Ariel Lassiter and Bradford Jamieson IV sent the Galaxy to a 2-0 victory at Dignity Health Sports Park. While that’s the only official meeting between the Galaxy and Republic FC, there has been a solid rivalry in the USL Championship over the past nine seasons between Sacramento and the LA Galaxy II, including some memorable regular season and playoff meetings. Add in the sporting history between the cities – remember the Kings and Lakers? – and there’s plenty of motivation for Sacramento and its fans.
Matchup Potential: The key here may be where the game is played. Sacramento is on a 10-game winning streak in the Open Cup on home turf at Heart Health Park after Wednesday’s win against Phoenix, including wins against Seattle Sounders FC and Real Salt Lake when MLS teams have previously visited. The Galaxy will likely be favorites regardless, but Sacramento would probably enjoy this opportunity.
The Lowdown: Los Angeles FC advanced to the Round of 16 with a 2-0 win against the Portland Timbers at Banc of California Stadium on Tuesday night, continuing an impressive Open Cup record in its short history that has previously seen the side advance to the Semifinals in 2018 and Quarterfinals in 2019. That win added to the overall success LAFC has found so far this season under former Las Vegas Lights FC Head Coach Steve Cherundolo in his first year at the helm, with the firepower of Carlos Vela, Cristian Arango and experience of midfielder Kellyn Acosta helping the side to the top of the Western Conference.
The History: Republic FC was one of the sides that LAFC defeated on its way to the Semifinals in its inaugural 2018 season at the same stage of the tournament. Sacramento gave its hosts a scare that time around as goals by Elliot Hord and Villyan Bijev twice put the visitors ahead at Banc of California Stadium, only for LAFC to answer both times and then grab a 3-2 victory thanks to an 89th-minute goal by Latif Blessing, breaking Republic FC hearts.
Matchup Potential: As strong as LAFC has looked this season, this is probably the team Republic FC would least like to face in the Round of 16, especially if the contest is at Banc of California Stadium, where LAFC is undefeated so far this season.