Sacramento Republic FC return to USL action this Saturday at Bonney Field to take on first year club Swope Park Rangers. Coming off a pair of friendlies against Liverpool U21, the Republic look to climb back up the Western Conference standings. This will be the Republic's first ever match against Swope Park Rangers.
The Rangers look to rebound after their 4-1 shellacking by Rio Grande Valley FC last week. The Rangers just sit 3 points behind the Republic in the standings as they try to get their second win in the last 6 matches. To keep their winning streak alive, the Republic will need to focus on the following keys to success:
Take Advantage of the Rangers Defense
The Rangers defense has been porous, with a -5 goal differential through 8 games this season. Only the Tulsa Roughnecks FC and Seattle Sounders FC 2 have a worse scoring differential. Last week the Rangers allowed 4 goals with 7 shots-on-goal. With the Republic's scoring woes apparently behind them, they will need to make most out of the opportunities the Rangers defense will give them.
The Republic lost some speed in the offseason with the departures of Rodrigo Lopez and Gabe Gissie, and that lack of pace has denied the Republic many opportunities to break down an opposition defense and create scoring opportunities. New Republic forwards Daniel Trickett-Smith and Harry Williams give the Republic the speed they need up top and open up new opportunities for more goals.
The speed of the Republic defenders have been essential to only allowing 3 goals all season. Fullbacks James Kiffe and Emrah Klimenta do an excellent job of running down the opposition and disrupting counter attacks. Unfortunately, Klimenta will not be available for the match this Saturday as he has been called up by the Montenegro National Team through May 29th.
Defense Must Dominate
The Republic defense hasn't really been challenged this season, as their record of 3 goals conceded through 8 matches -- the best in the USL -- can attest to. After the U.S. Open Cup match and friendlies against Liverpool U21, the Republic defensive starters will have to get back on track for league play after getting a little rest.
Goalkeeper Dominik Jakubek has been well rested, only playing in 1 match in 3 weeks. Although the rest surely did him some good, he will need to shake any rust loose and continue his winning form this Saturday. Whoever starts at right back for the Republic this week has some mighty shoes to fill with Klimenta gone.
The Republic must contain 19 year old Sporting Kansas City Homegrown Player and Rangers forward, Daniel Salloi, who leads the team in both goals and assists. If the Republic is able to deal with Salloi, they should be able to handle whatever else the Rangers throw at them.
Are there other keys to success that the Republic must focus on for a victory? Let us know in the comments below.