TAMPA, Fla. – The USL Championship announced on Wednesday that Sacramento Republic FC’s Mark Briggs had been voted as the Championship Coach of the Month for June. Sacramento claimed victory in all four of its contests in the past month to solidify its resume as a potential USL Championship title contender at the end of the season, while also claiming a historic road victory against the LA Galaxy to advance to the Semifinals of the 2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the deepest run in the club’s history.
A former Championship Coach of the Year in 2017 when he led Real Monarchs SLC to the best record in the regular season, Briggs is in his third season at the helm with Republic FC. After a major roster overhaul this past offseason, Sacramento is on course for a return to the USL Championship Playoffs at the midway point of its regular season.
The player turnover Sacramento experienced – which saw only four players of 11 that recorded at least 1,500 minutes in 2021 return for the current season – provided a challenge for Briggs in bringing together familiar returning players and newcomers and building a cohesive squad.
“Getting them to believe in one common goal would probably be the biggest challenge in getting the pieces to fit together after all the roster changes,” said Briggs. “We knew we needed a certain type of person and player.”
It also meant delivering a return to form on home turf, where Sacramento won only four times a season ago. The new squad – bolstered by returning legend Rodrigo Lopez, former Championship Golden Glove winner Danny Vitiello and Honduran forward Douglas Martinez Jr. among others – has already surpassed that win total with the side currently 5-0-3 at Heart Health Park. Sacramento is now the only side this season yet to experience defeat on home turf in the league.
That home record provided the base for Republic FC’s position as a title contender, and the club’s credentials as were burnished by a strong run of results in June. Sacramento opened with a 1-0 victory against current Western Conference leader San Antonio FC at Heart Health Park, and conceded only once in its four league games, also taking road victories against Detroit City FC – the first home loss Le Rouge had suffered this season – and at new NorCal rival Monterey Bay F.C.
“It was great to see, but to be honest, it was form that was expected with the talent and togetherness we have,” said Briggs. “This is a group me and my staff thoroughly believe in and expect the results we provided in June consistently.”
The crowning moment of the month was Sacramento’s progression past the LA Galaxy at Dignity Health Sports Park in the Quarterfinals of Open Cup. An early goal by Rodrigo Lopez and second-half winner by Luis Felipe Fernandes – putting Lopez tied for the tournament-lead with four goals this Open Cup campaign and giving Fernandes a third consecutive game-winner in the tournament – sent Republic FC past its illustrious opponent and into a Semifinal against Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday, July 27 at Heart Health Park. With a win, Sacramento would become the first lower-division side to reach the Open Cup Final since the Charleston Battery in 2008.
Briggs earned 70 percent of the ballot to claim the award. Birmingham Legion FC’s Tom Soehn finished in second place on 11 percent as his side won three consecutive games, recording shutouts in each as the Three Sparks claimed road victories against Phoenix Rising FC and New Mexico United.
The USL Championship’s Coach of the Month award is voted upon by the USL Championship National Media Panel and the USL Championship Technical Committee, with each group responsible for 50 percent of the overall vote.