Each year there is someone who rises through the ranks of the Republic that takes us all by storm. While it is not an easy task to accurately predict who will be the hidden superstar, the ICS staff is breaking out our crystal balls and making our best guesses.
George Shiel (@GeorgeMShiel)
Pressure can be a great motivator. This year, there is the pressure for the Republic to regain the championship, and pressure on coach Paul Buckle to succeed in his first full year. Furthermore for the Republic, there is great pressure to score more goals this year.
Thomas Stewart is now the veteran forward of this team, with the departure of Justin Braun this season. I feel that Stewart will be the breakout player this season for the Republic. He will be counted upon to improve the Republic's attack and scoring.
Stewart has pressure to become the top scoring forward with the additions of newcomers Mackenzie Pridham and Harry Williams. Stewart scored only three goals last season in 11 starts. I look for him to score in the double digits this season as he sees more playing time.
This is Stewart's year to become a top forward in the USL. He has an opportunity to take his game to the next level.
Professionals are incredibly motivated to be able to play at the USL level, but some added pressure can bring out the best in some players. Look for Stewart to be the breakout player for the Republic this season.
Josh Beeman (@Josh_Beeman)
My choice for breakout player for the Republic is Joaquin Rivas. Although he is facing the difficulty of a particularly deep midfield, I think this year could be the one where he takes a step up.
He has the speed, quick feet, and technical ability to succeed as a winger at this level. He just needs time on the field to develop into a player who can consistently impact the game, rather than a player who only occasionally makes big impacts.
Whether he gets that time or not remains to be seen. If he does, look for him to push for a bigger spot on the team.
Evan Eyster (@IronPonyChef)
Republic fans are nervous about the back line due to the departure of Daly and Vukovic. The breakout player for Sacramento in 2016 is going to be Mike Da Fonte.
Da Fonte was brought over from the New York Red Bulls 2 in the off-season, where he played for over 2000 minutes last year, starting 23 games. He is a very active player who tends to show up all over the field. He even received playing time in the NY Red Bulls match against Chelsea.
From what I have seen, he is a mix of Ivan Mirkovic and Gabe Gisse who plays defense. There may be some poor challenges, and he will likely lag behind only Mirkovic in number of cards accumulated - he drew 6 in 2015 - but he will become a fan favorite and will be the 2016 Republic breakout star.
Jeff Shunta (@JTShunta)
I believe the breakout player for the Republic this season will be a forward. My pick is Mackenzie Pridham. He has already shown a nose for goal in his limited preseason outings. He has obviously impressed Coach Buckle and the front office enough to warrant a contract being extended his way and will likely gain significant playing time as the season progresses, as goal scoring in any league is at a premium and Pridham has shown that scoring is something he does very well.
Now that we have tried our best to peer into the future, we want to hear from our readers. Are we right? Or are we just going to embarrass ourselves? Who do you think is going to be the breakout Republic star?