Sacramento Republic FC return to US Open Cup action tomorrow when they host the PDL's Kitap Pumas at Bonney Field in the third round of the historic tournament. On the line is a fourth round match against four-time tournament winners, MLS's Seattle Sounders. To get to this point, the Republic handily beat CD Aguiluchos USA 5-0, while the Pumas beat Seattle Sounders U-23s 1-0.
Here are some things to consider ahead of tomorrow's match.
While the US Open Cup is usually a fun time for both teams and fans, the additional midweek games it brings to a team's schedule can make this time of year a particularly difficult one. Take the Republic's schedule for May through June, for instance. From May 14 to June 11, a space of 28 days, the Republic are playing a total of 9 games for an average of a game every 3 days. It is the Republic's busiest time of the year and a time when the depth of the roster will be tested.
One way to help deal with all the fixture congestion that the Republic is experiencing is to change up the lineups a bit in order to give some players a rest from playing a full match every few days.
However, Paul Buckle seemed fairly hesitant to change things up too much for tomorrow's game when asked about it after last weekend's tie against Swope Park Rangers.
It's dangerous to chop and change, I've said this before. We finished the opposition well in the last game but it wasn't at our best. It's not an easy call to change it. I don't foresee there being as many changes as last time out if I'm honest at this moment in time.
However, just because Buckle was hesitant last Saturday does not mean that we are not going to see at least some changes. After all, Buckle is not about to broadcast to the Pumas that he will be fielding a rotated and possibly weaker starting XI on Wednesday.
One player in particular who will hopefully benefit from a bit of roster rotation is Max Alvarez. Alvarez is one of the more talented wide midfielders on the Republic's roster and has proven in the past that he can be dangerous in an inverted winger role. Alvarez started in the Republic's last USOC match against CD Aguiluchos USA and was extremely influential in the team's win, notching a pair of assists and scoring a superb free kick goal to round out the 5-0 result.
With all the talent in midfield, Alvarez has had difficulty breaking into the starting XI for league matches. Tomorrow's contest against Kitsap Pumas could be a big chance for him to show that he belongs in the starting XI.
The return of Emrah Klimenta? Not quite yet.
Emrah Klimenta has been away from Sacramento on national team duty with Montenegro and missed a few games in that time. Now, with Sunday's friendly against Turkey having come and gone, the camp is over and Klimenta will soon return to Sacramento with his first international cap under his belt. However, it is not expected that he will be available for tomorrow's US Open Cup match, which means that the Republic will once again be starting a deputy right back.
Right now the choice seems to be Joaquin Rivas, who started there in Saturday's draw with Swope Park Rangers. Despite being listed as a forward and not having much experience in the back line, Rivas has done fairly well filling in for Klimenta and I have no problems with him starting again tomorrow.
We're going streamless.
If you want to catch tomorrow's US Open Cup action, I hope you have either a ticket or a vivid imagination because there is not going to be a stream of the match. There will only be a radio broadcast on Sports 1140 KHTK. In the last USOC match we all were a little lucky in that someone on the CD Aguiluchos USA bench streamed the match from their phone, but it seems unlikely that such a thing will happen again.
It is unfortunate that a competition with so much history as the US Open Cup is not more accessible. These type of matches have been streamed in past years and some fans are understandably frustrated with the lack of streams this year.
Here is a possible starting XI for tomorrow's game.
With Buckle's comments above in mind, it does not seem likely that there will be too many deviations from what could be called a full strength starting lineup. However, two changes that we might see are Max Alvarez at right midfield for the reasons covered above and Carlos Rodriguez, who despite being only 19 has put on some good performances when given a chance.
Tomorrow's match also seems like a good chance for the Republic's two talented youngsters, Harry Williams and Trickett-Smith. The Prince has performed well when given a chance -- so much so that opposing teams seem to have him on a "foul first, ask questions later" policy -- and DTS has shown flashes of greatness and could use the time in US Open Cup to gel with his teammates in order to become a more effective chance creator.
What are your thoughts about tomorrow's match? Any predictions of your own? Sound off in the comments below.