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Historic cup run just reward for Zeiko Lewis and Sacramento Republic

Just reward: Zeiko Lewis

Zeiko Lewis, the Sacramento Republic forward, attributes the hard work he and his team-mates have put in on the training ground as the impetus for their historic run in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup this season.

The USL Championship side have punched well above their weight having claimed three Major League Soccer scalps on the way to reaching the final of the prestigious competition.

Mark Briggs’s team toppled LA Galaxy, San Jose Earthquakes and Sporting Kansas City, the latter in a thrilling semi-final at Heart Health Park last month that was ultimately decided on penalties.

“The run in the Open Cup has been unbelievable,” Lewis told The Royal Gazette. “It’s an amazing feeling.

“The team has put in a lot of effort and made a lot of strides to make it this far in the tournament.

“We have worked hard and to see our hard work and passion come to fruition to get us to a cup final is a tremendous feeling.”

He added: “To play in any cup final is a major honour, whether it’s professionally or amateur.

“To be in a cup final is a tremendous feeling and something that we all relish and are looking forward to.

“I am excited and looking forward to getting on the field, doing our best and getting a result.”

Sacramento are now poised do battle against another MLS side, Orlando City, in the final of the US Open Cup at the latter’s Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida, on September 7.

The USL Championship Western Conference side are the first from outside of the MLS to reach the final of the competition since Lewis’s former team Charleston Battery in 2008.

The Rochester Rhinos, now referred to as Rochester New York FC, are the last team from outside the top flight to win the US Open Cup having beaten Colorado Rapids 2-0 in 2009.

It is a feat Lewis and his team-mates are determined to emulate.

“To make it all the way to the finals has been a dream for us all,” he said.

“However, with one more game left on the line, we do not want to leave it as a ‘well, at least we made it’. We are going to give our all and hopefully we can finish the task at hand.”

There is added incentive as the winner will qualify for the Concacaf Champions League, a feat no USL team has achieved.

“To make it to the Concacaf Champions League is going to be a big accomplishment,” Lewis said. “Not only for the team, but the league as well. Just to show how much the league and everybody else has been growing and also for me personally to play in it.

“I got to play in Europa League qualifiers when I was in Iceland. But to be involved in the full thing in Concacaf would be a dream come true.”

Lewis, joined Sacramento from USL Championship Eastern Conference side Charleston last December after agreeing to the terms of an undisclosed deal.

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Published August 13, 2022 at 8:09 am (Updated August 13, 2022 at 8:09 am)

Historic cup run just reward for Zeiko Lewis and Sacramento Republic

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