Indomitable City Soccer: Last season the OC Blues capped off a great year by finishing at the top of the Western Conference. How have things been for the Blues so far this year?
The Goat Parade: So far this season, the Blues appear to be building chemistry with what is largely a new group. With a new goalkeeper, new forward line, half of a new defense, and yes, newcomers in midfield as well, they did not exactly hit the ground running, as they dropped the first two games at home. But the group appears to be building chemistry at a solid rate, and they are 2-0-1 in their last three, including two consecutive 1-0 wins. Given all the changes to the roster, the expectation that they would simply pick up where they left off last year was probably unrealistic, but five games in, they look to be in good shape for a continued push up the standings.
ICS: Earlier this season the Blues added former Republic midfielder and fan favorite Ivan Mirkovic to their roster. How has he fit in with the Blues?
TGP: Mirkovic has gone straight into the lineup, as one would expect, and been a key performer straight away. Considering the Blues lost the player, Luka Petricevic, who most often played the holding midfielder role last year in the offseason, this was a position of need prior to Mirkovic's arrival, and frankly he's an upgrade as far as providing bite and destroying opponent attacks while springing more attack-minded teammates. With Mirkovic in the lineup, I expect Didier Crettenand, for example, to play a bigger role in the attack as he won't be counted on as much to bust up plays and can go forward more often.
ICS: This will be the first time that OC and Sacramento will be facing each other this season. Who should Republic fans be on the lookout for this Saturday?
TGP: I think OC's starting forwards are pretty intriguing for opponents at this stage. While Trevin Caesar is a known quantity in USL at this point, he got on the board for the first time with the Blues last week and big things are expected of him this year. Newcomer Akwafei Ajeakwa is still building chemistry with Caesar but is fast, lively and seems to have a quality that can catch defenders off guard. Add to that young striker Tyler Feeley, who looked very good off the bench last week, and there's a good chance the outcome will rest on the output of those three players.
Final score prediction:
Two teams still trying to figure things out. I see a 1-1 draw.