It is a clash of midtable teams tonight at Bonney Field as Sacramento Republic FC host Orange County Blues FC. Both teams are solidly midtable, with Sacramento in eighth place and Orange County right below in ninth. They both also have the exact same record of two wins, two losses, and one draw. Tonight's match is a chance for both teams to pull away from the other and move up in the USL Western Conference. Or I suppose they could just draw and keep things essentially the same.
Either way, here are some things to think about ahead of tonight's match.
New Zealand to Sacramento by way of San Jose
The Republic announced yesterday that they had received fullback Kip Colvey on loan from the San Jose Earthquakes. Colvey has apparently been training with the Republic since Thursday and will be available for selection in tonight's match.
The announcement came as a bit of a surprise as fullback is generally considered a strong position for the Republic with Emrah Klimenta and James Kiffe. However, while there is no issue of talent, lack of depth is a concern and Colvey immediately makes the Republic's fullback corps deeper.
Now the big question is all about where he fits in. Will Kiffe or Klimenta be relegated to the bench to accommodate the loan? Will Colvey start his first game with Sacramento on the bench? Or, in an experimental move designed to get all three players on the field, could we see Kiffe fill in as the next in a rotating cast at the left midfield spot in order to allow Colvey a spot at left back? We'll have to wait to see what Buckle decides to do later tonight.
The one thing we do know for sure, though, is that the Republic is continuing on its mission to apparently become Cal Poly North. Colvey is now the fourth former Mustang added to the roster just this year.
We're Going Streaking!
Both the Republic and OC Blues are coming into tonight's match riding a streak of some kind. Sacramento is being bogged down by a two-game losing streak and is staring down the possibility of setting a new team record tonight by making it three in a row. The Blues, on the other hand, are walking into Bonney Field riding high on a three game unbeaten streak.
The Republic will be looking to break out of their funk and get back in the win column. But in order to do that they're going to have to do something they've struggled with so far this season: score goals.
Ok no, seriously, let's score some goals.
It is not secret that the Republic are having trouble putting the ball in the back of the net. Disallowed goals and chances created aside, the Republic have been downright disappointing in front of the net, scoring only two goals through five games.
One thing that the Republic have stressed this season is the fact that, despite the lack of goals, the team is still generating chances. And that is true. There is no denying that the Republic is generating chances and getting shots off. However, although the shots are racking up, they are not being converted into shots on goal. In fact, although the Republic are second among Western Conference teams in shots taken, they are all the way down in eleventh in shots on goal taken.
So while Sacramento is indeed creating chances and taking shots, it can be argued that the chances they are generating are low quality, less dangerous ones that result in off target shots.
In order to make today's game the turnaround that they need, Sacramento is going to have to step up in the offensive third and turn their possession into quality chances and those quality chances into goals.
I, for one, hope they can do it. If only out of concern for all the tables in and around Bonney Field.
Trying to predict the starting XI that we will see at kickoff is no fun. Here is what I would like to see from the Republic tonight, even though it might be unlikely.
However, although that is what I would like to see, it does not seem likely that it will happen. Buckle seems to prefer Danny Barrera in a wide midfield role and the idea of James Kiffe starting at left midfield, while interesting, is fairly unlikely.
What are your thoughts ahead of tonight's game? Sound off in the comments below.