Sacramento Republic FC hosts Saint Louis FC for the first time ever tomorrow at Bonney Field. In order to get a better idea of what we can expect out of the Republic's new foe, we spoke to Phill Grooms of STL Soccer Report.
1. St Louis FC is going to be new to many of us out here in Sacramento since this is its first season in the Western Conference. Could you give us a bit of an intro to the club?
Saint Louis FC (STLFC) went 8-11-9 in Eastern Conference play last year, which was their inaugural season. Being their first foray into forming a team, and having no team veterans to speak of, they did their best finding eye-catching players to field a competitive side. In some ways it worked. They fielded a stout defense (5th in Eastern Conference in goals against), but had issues with goal scoring. 3 players tied for first in goals scored last year with 4 each.
This year, roles are better defined right from the start and proven veterans have been brought in. One that I'll talk about latervis Sacramento Republic alum Chad Bond. Another is A. J. Cochran, a St. Louis native who has put in two seasons at center back with Houston Dynamo. The last, and most flashy acquisition is El Salvadorian striker Irvin Herrera. Irvin scored one goal every two matches with his home country club, Santa Tecla.
2. St Louis is coming into this weekend's match in 9th place with a record of 1-2-2. Not the best start, but not terrible either. How do you think the season has gone so far for STL?
Injuries. Two weeks ago, in their game against Oklahoma City Energy, STLFC had six players out and arguably 5 of them were starters. I have argued, and still believe, that the team has never put out a true starting XI, as many players have been struggling with nagging lower body injuries. Irvin Herrera hasn't returned to true form since hurting himself in training during the preseason.
That being said, they already look better than last year offensively and even defensively. Vince Cicciarelli, another St. Louis native the team picked up after he was cast off from Columbus Crew SC, has been a constant threat in the final third when he's played. A bottleneck at the center back position was fixed by moving James Musa up to the defensive center midfield position, giving the back line three very, very solid defenders in the middle. So, god willing, if all of that is true, 1-2-2 isn't a bad record. However, it's a long season and a lot can happen. Needless to say, raucous sellout crowds at Worldwide Technology Park are starting to ache for wins and I think the team is feeling the pressure.
3. Former Republic player Chad Bond transferred to STL from Tulsa in the offseason. How has he been playing so far this season?
It seems Chad Bond found his place in the world last year with Tulsa Roughnecks. He was fourth in assists in USL play and has sniper-like aim when launching long balls, making him a perfect fit for St. Louis. STLFC, much like what I’ve heard about Sacramento Republic this year, likes very direct play—sending long balls over the top.
Chad has been teaming up with Tyler David and James Musa in the defensive midfield and is charged with controlling play, leading the team as captain, joining in stalling attacks in the midfield, and, hopefully, contributing assists. While he has yet to get an assist, I think it is on its way. In his other duties, he has performed admirably and, if I may, we thank you for sending him on.
Impact subs: Cicciarelli, Conner, Tshuma, and Maher (any of which I could see starting)
Score Prediction: STLFC 1 - SAC 0