Sacramento Republic FC carried a bit of momentum with them into the home opener last Saturday and they added to it with their 1-0 win over Arizona United. That win brings the Republic to two wins in two games, their best ever start to a USL season.
Here are a few things we learned in that victorious home opener.
1. Defensive strength might not be a worry at the moment
First off, let me say that this is only after two games of a long season and that any grand, sweeping conclusions are a bit early at this point. That being said, the Republic's defense has looked very good so far this season. In fact, they have allowed only a single shot on goal in the first 180 minutes of the season.
The departure of Mickey Daly and Nemanja Vukovic in the offseason rightly brought worries of how strong the Republic's defense would be. With two games in the books where the team's goal was hardly threatened, it is safe to say that the Republic defense is in good hands.
The early defensive strength bodes well for the possibility of the Republic achieving something that Paul Buckle has talked about a lot since he came here: balance between attack and defense. He spoke a bit about that after Saturday's match.
Of course we have a brand of attacking - we attack all the time - but there are two sides to football... You've got to defend. Teams have worked us out over the last few years. We've got to be resilient.
Although Buckle has spoke about achieving balance between offense and defense, the team's scoring woes late last year made that a difficult goal to achieve. While the Republic attack might not be running like a well oiled machine, it does seem to be less impotent. Perhaps this year we'll be able to see a truly balanced Republic team. Only time will tell.
2. Derek Foran deserves a spot in the starting XI
For pretty much all of the offseason and preseason I have been saying that while Derek Foran is a fine center back, I don't believe that he is starting caliber for the level of team that the Republic want to be. However, with his performances in the first two games of the season I am beginning to change my mind.
Foran performed very well both in Seattle in the season opener and last Saturday in the home opener, doing his part to keep the Republic's defense strong. He has been winning headers, making good tackles, and seemingly being a vocal organizer on the backline.
Although Mike da Fonte is likely going to get a run out at center back at some point to show what he can do, for now it appears that Foran has the starting spot all to himself. And I am ok with that, provided he keeps performing at the level he has been.
3. The Tower Bridge Battalion have a new toy
The atmosphere in the home opener was incredible. It was not necessarily at the level it was at the USL Championship in 2014, but then it would be hard to ever top the kind of noise and energy that was in the stadium that night.
One of the best things of the night last Saturday actually made no noise at all. It was the new smoke machines installed to celebrate goals in the Tower Bridge Battalion section.
Photo: Alex Leguizamo/Indomitable City Soccer
I mean seriously, look at that. It's pretty awesome. And it's also not in danger of burning Cal Expo and Bonney Field to the ground, which is also a plus.
What are your thoughts from last Saturday's win over Arizona United? Sound off in the comments below.