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USL Championship Playoffs Preview – Sacramento Republic FC vs. Phoenix Rising FC

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 11/01/23, 11:40AM EDT


Sacramento, Phoenix take aim at return to Championship Final in compelling matchup

Sacramento Republic FC will try to return to the USL Championship Final against two-time Western Conference title winner Phoenix Rising FC on Saturday night at Heart Health Park. | Photo courtesy Sacramento Republic FC

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sacramento Republic FC and Phoenix Rising FC will meet in the postseason for the first time since 2020 when they meet in the Western Conference Final of the 2023 USL Championship Playoffs on Saturday night. Kickoff at Heart Health Park is set for 10 p.m. ET. Here’s what you need to know.

How They Got Here

Sacramento Republic FC (18-6-10, 64pts) – Powered by an electric second-half display, Sacramento Republic FC advanced to the final four in the postseason for the first time since its inaugural campaign in 2014 with a 3-1 victory against defending title holders San Antonio FC last Friday night. Damia Viader recorded a goal and assist after coming on as a halftime substitute, while Nick Ross also notched a goal and assist after Russell Cicerone had put the hosts ahead four minutes after the break. Sacramento is now on a five-game winning streak overall and has taken 13 wins in 19 home games this season to sit with the best home record in the Western Conference this season as it seeks to cap its 10th anniversary season with a second league title.

Phoenix Rising FC FC (12-10-12, 48pts) – For a second consecutive postseason outing, Phoenix Rising FC went to extra time before earning victory as Emil Cuello’s goal in the 116th minute provided the winner in a 2-1 result against Orange County SC las Saturday night at Championship Soccer Stadium. The No. 6 seed has now upset a pair of California clubs on the road this postseason, having previously defeated San Diego Loyal SC, while leading scorer Danny Trejo has scored in each game to move to 19 goals in the regular season and playoffs. After a five-game winless streak to end the regular season, the two-time Western Conference title winner has regained its form and will look for another trophy this weekend.

All-Time Series

Phoenix Rising FC holds a narrow edge in the all-time series in the Championship regular season and playoffs with an 8-7-8 record. Both teams won on home turf previously this season, while Rising FC took a 1-0 victory in 2020’s Western Conference Quarterfinals after extra time in the lone prior playoff meeting between the sides.

Opta Says

10 – Sacramento Republic FC has conceded only 10 goals in the first half this season, fewest in the league, while holding opponents scoreless in 27 of 36 games in the opening 45 minutes.

37 – Phoenix Rising FC has scored 37 goals in the second half of games this season, the most in the league, recording double-digit goals in each of the three 15-minute segments of the half.

Players to Watch

Sacramento Republic FC – Jack Gurr: The right-sided wingback has been an integral part of Sacramento’s attacking structure all season, and his potential matchup against Eddie Munjoma will be one to watch closely.

Phoenix Rising FC – Dariusz Formella: The former Republic FC player has become an integral part of Phoenix’s forward line since his midseason move from Oakland Roots SC and will try to challenge Sacramento’s strong back line.

Discipline Report

Sacramento Republic FC – No suspensions

Phoenix Rising FC – No suspensions

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