This time of year can be hard for many Sacramento Republic FC fans. The weather is dreary and cold, the parks and soccer fields are soaked with rain and some of us can only get our soccer fix in the early mornings watching English Premier League or Liga MX matches broadcast from other parts of the world.
We long for the nights at Bonney Field when we can cheer the Republic on to victory. We crowd into our favorite pub/bar where we can have a few drinks while watching the away matches. We miss soccer in Sacramento and the 2016 season cannot get here fast enough.
On Tuesday, the USL announced their 2016 regular season schedule. While we think all Republic games are important, here at Indomitable City Soccer we have come up with the top 5 matches for the upcoming season:
Saturday, April 2nd
Opponent: Arizona United SC
The first home game of the season is going to be huge no matter the opponent, no offense to Arizona United SC. The Republic, with the largest fan base in lower division soccer, will be amped for the season to begin. New Arizona United coach Frank Yallop, who most recently coached the Chicago Fire of MLS, will be looking to turn the club around from a disappointing 2015 season. Arizona United failed to beat the Republic last year and will be looking for some payback.
Saturday, April 23rd
Opponent: St. Louis FC
New to the Western Conference this season, St. Louis FC will travel to Sacramento for the first time. This will be one of four teams that the Republic will face for the first time this season. As far as firsts go, St. Louis is also rumored to be in the running for MLS expansion, which could make this match the first between two future MLS clubs.
Saturday, June 11th
Opponent: Real Monarchs SLC
Easily the worst team in the Western Conference last year, Real Monarchs had one win and three draws against the Republic. Playing in Aces Ballpark, the future home of the Reno USL team, it's hard not to feel that this is some sort of USL public relations stunt. However, that doesn't mean that the match is meaningless. Playing for the second time in four days, the Republic fan base will no doubt show up in force and look for the club to get a win against their most frustrating opponent.
Tuesday, August 2nd
Opponent: OKC Energy FC
This can be considered a homecoming of sorts for new Republic goalkeeper Evan Newton, as the Republic go to Oklahoma to face his former club, OKC Energy FC. The Republic split the series last season, with each team winning at home. The match played in Oklahoma was one of the most contentious meetings for the Republic last season, as each team received a red card (Rodrigo Lopez saw red for the Republic). Unfortunately, with the erratic scheduling this year, this will be the only match between these two clubs.
Saturday, September 17th
Opponent: LA Galaxy II
You know we couldn't create a top 5 match list without including Los Dos. To be honest, we could have included all four meetings between these clubs on the list. Easily the Republic's biggest rival, Los Dos have taken the last two matches, including a win in the playoffs last season. What's so special about this match? This is the last home match of the season and it could also have playoff implications if we assume that both clubs are in contention.
What do you think are some of the biggest matches for the upcoming season? Let us know in the comments.