We’re still over three months away before the next USL season kicks off, but preparations in Sacramento are well underway for another potential run at the title.
Last week, Republic announced the acquisition of Irishman Peter McGlynn, the latest in a slew of off-season signings that include defender Enrique Montano and the return of Captain Danny Barrera and Harry Williams, among others. In total, the Republic roster is currently at nine players heading into next season:
- Danny Barrera
- Emrah Klimenta
- Harry Williams
- Dominic Jakubek
- Evan Newton
- Augustin Cazarez
- Carlos Rodriguez
- Enrique Montano
- Peter McGlynn
Without making judgement in one way or the other on the signings thus far, it’s interesting to see how the club is going about its offseason business (and granted, there are several factors, such as the potential exit of some players, that are undoubtedly influencing the process, but it’s a slow offseason so bear with me).
The Railyards Project Environmental Impact Report was unanimously approved by the Sacramento City Council less than two weeks ago, another step toward bringing Major League Soccer to the city, but we’ve already gotten a small taste of MLS via the realities of the transfer market.
Last season, the club signed a healthy mix of young players with potential (e.g., Carlos Rodriguez, Daniel Trickett-Smith, Wilson Kneeshaw), seasoned players that could slot-in and make an immediate impact (e.g., Jeremy Hall, Elliott Hord) and a seasoned player who could be considered the USL equivalent of a Designated Player (DP) (i.e., Carlton Cole).
As tends to be the case in MLS, bringing on a big-name player isn’t a guaranteed recipe for success, nor will it automatically fix a team’s deficiencies. It was hoped that Cole would help put an end to Republic’s inefficiency in front of goal, but that was obviously not the case. Instead, the difference makers proved to be youth—players like Cameron Iwasa with his record-breaking season and Kneeshaw with his super-sub heroics—along with the leadership of experienced players, such as Barrera and Hall. The latter, in particular, was an unexpected coup for Republic that played a major role in the club’s late-season form prior to the playoffs.
Though it is unclear whether we’ll see Hall in a Republic shirt again, it’s safe to say that his arrival set a standard for player signings and is influencing the way Paul Buckle and his technical staff approach the transfer market.
While not quite the journeymen that Hall was, both Montano and McGlynn are experienced players that can play in multiple positions. Hall was originally brought on to fill in for the injured Klimenta at right back, but Buckle found better use for him in a holding midfielder role. Similarly, although Montano and McGlynn are officially listed as defenders, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them play elsewhere on the field depending on the team’s needs.
Montano is an attack-minded fullback that tallied six assists in his first season for Louisville FC so it stands to reason that he could play as a winger, as well. The two roles often tend to be interchangeable and you’ll sometimes see players begin their careers in one position and switch to the other. For instance, Real Madrid winger Gareth Bale started out as a left back before moving to his current role on the flank, while his teammate (and arguably the best left back in the world), Marcelo, has featured in both roles. At a more local level, we saw Buckle play Joaquin Rivas throughout the flank at various points last season despite being listed a natural forward, while Hord also has experience playing in midfield.
McGlynn is a similar case. Republic’s news release announcing his signing labeled him as a utility player, which means we can probably expect to see him fielded in various positions in the opening weeks of the season (if he starts) as Buckle seeks to find his ideal XI. Although he “can play anywhere across the back four or in the midfield,” according to Buckle, his mix of defensive and attacking qualities point to him being brought on as a potential successor to Hall, or if Hall were to return, as his partner at the base of midfield.
Of course, with just nine players officially on the roster so far, it’s hard to predict what we’ll see on the field next season quite yet. But it’s the offseason, so we’ll try.
What’re your thoughts on Republic’s offseason activity thus far? Like what you see? Hope they’ll bring back certain players and not others? Let us know in the comments below.