Republic FC goalkeeper Rafael Diaz and forward Dariusz Formella have been selected for the USL Championship Team of the Week starting 11 after a pair of tremendous performances that lead to their side’s 4-0 win over Portland Timbers 2 on Saturday.
Diaz held Portland Timbers 2 scoreless with eight saves and collected his fourth clean sheet of the 2020 season. Diaz finished the season undefeated in 10 appearances, only conceding eight goals. In the 17th minute, Rafa parried off a shot from Portland’s Tega Ikoba, only to push aside a second-chance opportunity with a double-save from his knees. This is Diaz’s first Team of the Week selection with Republic FC, and second selection in his career.
Formella earned his third Team of the Week performance for another multi-goal, offensive explosion. Saturday’s two-goal game was his third brace this season – elevating his tally on the 2020 season up to eight, which is tied for 10th best in the entire USL Championship. His second and fourth minute strikes have etched his name into Republic FC record books with the fastest brace in club history. He also contributed with an assist on the third goal of the night, setting up Jaime Villarreal in the ninth minute of the match.
Diaz and Formella are the 11th and 12th Team of the Week selections for Republic FC players throughout the 2020 campaign.
Republic FC ended the 2020 USL Championship season with 4-0 victory against Portland Timbers 2. The club ends the season with 30 points and the second playoff slot from Group A. The club has not missed the USL postseason in seven campaigns, dating back its inaugural season and first league championship in 2014.
“I was happy with the intensity shown in the first half in general, especially the first 30 minutes where we moved the ball quickly, we scored four good goals and we put the game to bed and the other pleasing thing was we didn’t concede. We didn’t concede inside the first few minutes. “We actually scored and we didn’t concede in the whole 90 minutes. It puts the guys in a confident mood and it puts everybody in a good frame of mind going into a massive game next week against Phoenix,” Sac Republic Head Coach Mark Briggs said afterward.
Republic FC Goalkeeper Rafa Diaz held Portland scoreless with eight saves, securing his fourth clean sheet of the season. Dariusz Formella opened the scoring in the second minute of the match, only to find the back of the net two minutes later – with his third brace of the year.
“I think the first 7-10 minutes was great. We scored three goals and these three goals made it easier for us,” Formella said afterward.
In the ninth minute of the match, Midfielder Jaime Villarreal buried a shot for his second goal of the season. Midfielder Villyan Bijev capped off the scoring with a screamer in the 25th minute.
Bijev’s stellar strike in the 25th minute against Portland Timbers 2 on Oct. 3 has been nominated by the league for the Fans’ Choice Goal of the Week for Week 16. Voting is now open and run through Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020 at 9 a.m. at USL Championship.com.
After already proving an assist earlier in the match, Bijev bagged Sacramento’s fourth and final goal on the night with a stunning left-footed curling attempt that the former Liverpool FC playmaker nestled inside the top left corner of the net. The goal set up superbly after Rodrigo Lopez picked him out to his left and the Bulgarian-born winger weaved his way towards the top of the box and rifled a well-placed shot on target and in an unstoppable place for the goalkeeper to get a hand on it.
The strike was Bijev’s fourth this season and 13 during league play with Sacramento – 16th goal with SRFC across all competitions. This is Bijev’s second Goal of the Week nomination this season after already having won the weekly honor for Week 12 after scoring the game-winning goal against Orange County SC on Sept. 9 while playing with only 10-men.
Saturday, Oct. 10, Republic FC will meet Phoenix Rising FC in the 2020 USL Championship Playoffs Western Conference Quarterfinals at Casino Arizona Field, with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m. The match will be broadcast locally on KQCA My58 and Estrella TV Sacramento, as well as streamed on ESPN+.
– Will Strome