It's finally here, everyone. After a long and occasionally painful off-season and an exciting but hard-to-watch pre-season, the Sacramento Republic 2016 USL Regular Season starts today.
Here are a few talking points ahead of tonight's game.
The Buckle Era truly begins
Although Paul Buckle has been the Head Coach/Technical Director for Sacramento Republic for quite a while, this Friday is when the Buckle Era truly begins. Last season he did the best he could with the remnants of Preki's roster and tried to get as far as he could with where Preki left the Republic in the league table. This year, though, Buckle has had an entire off-season to build a roster and shape the team according to his vision.
The departure of stars like Rodrigo Lopez and Mickey Daly made things difficult, but there has been plenty of time to replenish the roster with talented players. Additions like cernter back Chris Christian and midfielder JJ Koval certainly go a long way to providing a solid defensive foundation, and additions like Mackenzie Pridham could do much to alleviate the Republic's scoring woes.
This is Paul Buckle's Sacramento Republic FC. It is his roster, his style, and his responsibility for making sure that it is a success. He gets his share of the credit if they do well, but he also gets his share of the blame if they struggle too. Let's hope we don't have to play the blame game too much.
New season, familiar foe
This is not the first time that the Republic have to start things off in Seattle. In fact, last season's opener took place in the same spot as Friday's game: Starfire Sports Complex. As mentioned in our SRFC vs S2 history piece, that game did not go so well.
This time around the Republic will be hoping things turn out better. Three points out of the gate would be a fantastic start and would give Sacramento some momentum moving forward to the home opener against Arizona United on April 2.
At this point, there is not much we know about S2's roster, considering they have only had about a handful of players on their roster for most of the preseason.
We've got loans! This is not a drill!
The Republic officially announced on Thursday that they received Tommy Thompson and Adam Jahn on loan from the San Jose Earthquakes, something that was very popular among fans in Sacramento.
Both Jahn and Thompson have history with the Republic. Thompson had short loan stints with the team in both 2014 and 2015, where he quickly became quite popular with the fans. Jahn did not make his way to Sacramento in 2015, but he was a big part of the Republic's 2014 season. He made 20 appearances with Sacramento that season in both the regular season and playoffs, starting 17. He also scored 7 goals in that time, including the first ever Republic home goal at Hughes Stadium against the Harrisburg City Islanders.
How long the duo stay in Sacramento is uncertain, as no length has been announced for the loans. If past experience is our guide, it is likely that these are not season-long loans. When the Quakes feel that they need either Jahn or Thompson again, they will likely recall them.
However, that does not mean that the two loans will only be here for a short time. While Thompson is a hot commodity in both Sacramento and San Jose, and is more likely to be called back to the mother-ship, it seems as though Jahn is lower on the depth chart and is more likely to stay in Sacramento for longer.