Photo courtesy Sam Ortega/Portland Timbers 2
Sacramento Republic FC's streak of reaching the USL Cup Playoffs in every season of the club's history continued in 2017, and the club notched a notable moment with its first road playoff win and first postseason victory overall since it claimed the 2014 USL Cup. There were times throughout the season where things didn’t look like they were going to quite work out, however, with Republic FC forced to fight hard for that playoff place, eventually holding onto eighth place in the Western Conference standings.
Major roster turnover that saw players depart from the club's squad in 2016, when Republic FC finished first in the USL Western Conference, but that did not appear to give Sacramento any slowness as it started the season well. From there, though, some inconsistency and injuries began to take their toll, with a six-game winless streak pushing Sacramento down the standings. The ups and downs would continue throughout the year, with three-game winning streaks being followed by similar winless streaks, but after suffering an upset as a No. 1-seed in 2016, Sacramento turned the tables this season as it stunned the regular season champion Real Monarchs SLC before falling to the Swope Park Rangers in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Record: 13-12-7, 46pts
Place: Eighth in the Western Conference
Goals For: 45
Goals Against: 43
USL Cup Playoffs: Western Conference Quarterfinal (W 1-1 AET, 3-1 on penalties vs. Sacramento Republic FC), Western Conference Semifinal (L 1-0 vs. Swope Park Rangers)
2017 leaders: Villyan Bijev (9 goals), James Kiffe, Sammy Ochoa (6 assists), Evan Newton (67 saves)
Earning a place in the USL Cup Playoffs largely came from Republic FC's impressive run in the middle of the season, with a seven-match undefeated run that included six victories giving Sacramento a major boost. It was a stunning run for Republic FC that included its biggest win of the season, a 6-2 victory against Rio Grande Valley FC Toros on June 21st at Papa Murphy's Park. Sacramento only scored more than two goals four times in the season, but half of those came in this impressive run.
The 2017 Sacramento Republic FC season was about runs of form, both good and bad, so for each good run the side put in there seemed to be another of equal disappointment. Republic FC's six-game winless streak that arrived after it had won the first three matches of the season, which included only one draw, was the biggest of those, but other runs that included attacking struggles, including a run of only one win in six games to close the regular season, left the side sweating out its place in the playoffs down the stretch.
Montenegro international defender Emrah Klimenta didn't score often in 2017, but those that he did were usually special. His free kick against Phoenix Rising FC was perfectly placed into the top-left corner, giving goalkeeper Josh Cohen little chance to save.
Republic FC goalkeeper Evan Newton made stellar saves back-to-back against Donner Pass Derby rivals Reno 1868 FC at Greater Nevada Field, first parrying a long-range effort away before another diving stop on the follow-up chance.