Republic Stoppage Time: A New Beginning


As you may be aware of by this point, Saturday was my last day as an employee of The Davis Enterprise, the newspaper I've worked at since the beginning of 2014.

You can read my farewell column here, but please know that all I appreciate all the support and have been really touched by all the notes I've received from people in the local community.

At the same time, people have asked me what's next? And to that question, I don't have an answer, but I know that I still want to write, so for the time being, I'm going to start updating this website again.

I plan on covering Sacramento Republic FC full time through this website and Twitter. The book is still coming (though not until 2023).

One of the things I really enjoyed writing on this website was my Republic Stoppage Time column, a cheap knock-off of Steve Sirk's legendary "Sirk's Notebook." The idea is to go behind the scenes of each Republic game and give you the storylines around each game that you may have missed by just watching the game at home -- which is unfortunately the only option for most of us right now.

These will not be the gamers I filed for the paper for many years. Video highlights are easily available online now, making gamers obsolete. I mean, why would you want to read my words describing the action when you could just actually watch the action yourself?

So after each home game for at least the remainder of the season, I'll delve into what's going on with the Republic and post it here within 24 hours of the final whistle.

Two caveats:

- This could end at any time should I receive some sort of gainful employment, though given the state of the world, I'm not particularly optimistic about that right now. It's okay, though, this gives me much more creative freedom.

- I don't have an editor. There are probably going to be typos. Apologies in advance.

Overall, I may update this site once a day or just after Republic games. I'm really not sure yet and it will depend on if people are actually reading and what people want. I like doing this and if I cared about money, I never would have chosen this as a career. The amount I post here will depend on how much people like it.

Before I get into this week's stories, though, I want to post about a few quick things.

First, with my job at NorCal Premier Soccer, I've gotten the opportunity to interview a gaggle of interesting influencers in the NorCal soccer community during COVID-19. I've learned a lot from each one of these interviews, so feel free to check them out. Here is who I have spoken to so far (in order of date published):

- Former San Jose Earthquake Zak Ibsen

- Former San Jose Earthquake John Doyle

- Pleasanton Rage DoC and NorCal Women's Committee Chair Erin Sharpe

- Former San Jose Earthquake Troy Dayak

- Former Sacramento Republic FC Head Coach Paul Buckle

- UC Davis Women's Head Coach Tracy Hamm

- Austin Bold midfielder Amobi Okugo

- NorCal Vice President and former Sacramento Knight Shawn Blakeman

- Documentary filmmaker Jun Stinson

- Former Mexican National Team player Carmen Padilla

- Nashville SC defender Jalil Anibaba

- Former Belize National Team Head Coach Ian Mork

- Former Sacramento Republic FC Head Coach Simon Elliott

- Former San Jose State Women's Head Coach Philippe Blin

- Oakland Roots Head Coach Jordan Ferrell

- Former Ajax, Barcelona, and Manchester United Goalkeeping Coach Frans Hoek

- Soccer Without Borders Director Ben Gucciardi

- Houston Dash Assistant Coach Twila Kaufman

I'll also have an interview with San Jose Earthquakes midfielder/defender Tommy Thompson coming out this week.

Second, the coverage scene around Sacramento Republic FC has changed so much since I last regularly covered the team in 2017. For a long time, it was just Bill Paterson, Josh Beeman, and myself sitting at the press table with the worst site lines in the history of professional sports.

There are so many people I would like to recommend (apologies to anyone I've left out):

Print media:

Cameron Salerno, Sacramento Bee

Online outlets:

Alicia Rodriguez, Indomitable City Soccer

Radio:

Matt George, KHTK

Podcasts:

Scott, Zak, and Nolan, 916Republic

Jonathan and Luis, Sactown FC

GT Battle, SRFC Podcast

I hope you all check out the work that these amazing people are doing. I've always been of the opinion that if we want to grow as a soccer culture, we need more people and outlets covering the beautiful game. These aren't my competitors, they're my friends.

Now, onto the game that was:

August 16, 2020

Sacramento Republic FC 3 - Tacoma Defiance 1

Papa Murphy's Park

Sacramento Goalscorers: Dariusz Formella (14, 41), Cameron Iwasa (33)

Tacoma Goalscorers: Samual Rogers (50)

Attendance: 0

Behind two goals from striker Dariusz Formella and Sacramento native Cameron Iwasa's 50th career USL goal, the Republic kept pace with Reno 1868 FC at the top of USL Championship Group A with a 3-1 victory over the Tacoma Defiance.

That's the entirety of my report on the game action. For a real gamer, check out Cameron Salerno's Sacramento Bee piece. Game highlights can be found here.

The storylines:

Iwasa bags No. 50

Just three days after having seemingly his 50th career USL goal ruled, correctly, as an own goal against Portland, Jesuit alum Cameron Iwasa reached the half century mark in the 33rd minute against Tacoma Saturday.

Some notes about Iwasa:

- Iwasa scored his first professional goal on April 2, 2015 in a 2-1 road loss against Portland Timbers 2. While it was the only league goal that he would score that season, he added a strike in a 1-0 friendly victory against Sunderland in what was Paul Buckle's first game as Republic manager.

- 48 of his 50 USL goals have come for the Republic -- Iwasa scored twice in 22 games for the Swope Park Rangers while on loan from Sporting Kansas City during the 2017 season.

- Combined USL stat records are hard to find, but Iwasa is far and away the Republic's leading goalscorer in league play. I couldn't be wrong, but I don't think anyone else has more than Rodrigo Lopez's 23, meaning that Iwasa has scored more than twice as many USL goals as any other player for the Republic.

After the game, the unassuming Iwasa, as per usual, was quite mum on the subject of his 50th.

“It feels good, it would have felt better if there were some people here to celebrate it. To be honest, the whole No. 50 thing, it’s obviously a big accomplishment, but it’s not something that’s honestly that important to me," The forward said. The goal this week was to get nine points and that’s what I’m buzzing about right now. It’s an honor to have that accomplishment, but for me personally, I don’t see that as too big of a deal.”

Iwasa owes Bijev a beer, or at least dinner

Speaking of the Iwasa goal, it couldn't have been delivered on more of a platter by midfielder Villyan Bijev.

Here's a still frame of Bijev, shortly after he was sent through by Lopez:

And here's a still frame of what happened next:

I stand by those tweets. I'm really tired of professional soccer players not making that pass so it was refreshing for Bijev to make what I think is always the correct play.

After the game KHTK's Matt George asked Iwasa if he owed Bijev a beer or dinner because of the pass.

“Absolutely, that was absolutely beautiful to see," Iwasa said. "He told me after the fact that he didn’t even see me, he just heard me yell and he trusted that I was in a good spot. If we get to the point where we’re giving up a good chance for a great chance and playing legitimate team ball, we’re going to be a tough team to stop.”

Formella doesn't always score, but when he does, it's a brace against the Tacoma Defiance

Dariusz Formella has played seven games for Sacramento Republic FC in the USL. In five of those games, he has zero goals. In the other two games, he has four goals. Both of those games came against the Tacoma Defiance.

In our awkward socially distanced Zoom press conferences, Formella opened up about only scoring against Tacoma when asked about it by Indomitable City Soccer's Alicia Rodriguez.

“Hopefully I will score against every other team in the league," he said. "But yeah, this season I have scored only against Tacoma. I promise you that I will score against the other teams too.”

Diaz continues strong start in goal

Finally, it was confirmed this week that starting Sacramento goalkeeper Adam Grinwis would miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. The netminder was in good spirits Saturday, seen in the stands with a full leg brace while cheering on his teammates.

In his absence, Republic backup Rafael Diaz has started strong, allowing just a single goal in three games.

For what it's worth, Amobi Okugo has in the past, served as a scout for a professional agency. I'm not sure if he's still doing any of that as he's currently playing through his own USL season, but it appears as if Diaz has the backing of one of this region's best-ever players.

He also has the backing of head coach Mark Briggs, who was asked Saturday about the possibility of bringing in another keeper.

“We’re discussing that internally, Rafa’s done really well and Rafa’s the No. 1 right now and Rafa will be the No. 1 whether we bring someone in or we don’t, I think that’s important to put out there, but obviously we have to look at alternatives and we have to look at bringing somebody in who can possibly be the backup for Rafa in case Rafa gets injured -- you never know what you’re going to have to face so we’re communicating with a few clubs to see if there’s anything out there that we can do, but right now there’s nothing out there so we just gotta keep looking and for now Diego (Ramos) will be the backup goalkeeper," Briggs said.

That's all from me today. I may post again this week about something else, but I will for sure return next Sunday with a Stoppage Time column on Sacramento's Saturday game against Portland Timbers 2. Any feedback on this would be greatly appreciated and can either be sent to evanream3@gmail.com or feel free to troll me on Twitter @EvanReam.

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