Mark Briggs & the Hard Road to Sacramento

A cup run is more art than science. Briggs knows it. It’s clicked so far, with wins against a hungry third-division outfit looking to make a name (Central Valley Fuego), a direct USL Championship rival (Phoenix Rising) and a pair of Major League Soccer sides (San Jose Earthquakes and LA Galaxy) . And even though they’ve scored 14 goals and conceded just two en route to the semifinals, they’ve had to dig deep and rely on all the belief and hunger that comes with being the underdog.

Another Cupset on the Cards?

“It’s why you play the game and it’s why I coach the game,” said Briggs about the opportunity to, once again, show up an MLS team when Sporting Kansas City come to town on the 27th.

“We’re up against it,” the coach said of the test against the four-time Open Cup champions from Kansas, who, while having a rocky league campaign in MLS, are taking dead-aim at another Cup that would make them the first MLS team to win five. “They’re not having the kind of season they normally do, but I think that makes it more difficult for us.”

Sacramento, you’ve done it again 🙌

With just under two weeks to go, our @opencup Semifinal match @HeartHealthPark is officially SOLD OUT. 🔥

— Republic FC (@SacRepublicFC) July 14, 2022

“We’ve got nothing to lose,” he added, a steel in his voice.

Peter Vermes, coach of Sporting Kansas City for more than a decade, has heard that line many times before. He heard before the Quarterfinal when his side smashed third-division strivers Union Omaha 6-0. But this time, from the lips of Coach Briggs, it sounds different. The Republic are a team with a dream, out of respect and with a man in charge who knows the ups, downs and in-betweens of the cups.

“I love the Cup competitions so much,” said Briggs, channeling the same enthusiasm as that boy who stepped out onto hallowed Wembley ground all those years ago with the whole world in front of him. “My career, the way it went and how it didn’t pan out, makes me really appreciate where I’m at right now.”

Fontela is editor-in-chief of Follow him at @jonahfontela on Twitter.

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