Sacramento Republic FC are back on the road today as they head down south to face Los Angeles Galaxy II. The Quails are attempting to turn things around but are in for a difficult test against the Western Conference leaders.
Here is some food for thought ahead of tonight's match.
Jack McBean is a USL offensive powerhouse.
Jack McBean, who is in his fifth year of professional soccer despite being only 21 years old, has been one of the more dangerous players in the USL Western Conference since Los Dos first joined the league in 2014. Since then he has scored 20 goals and recorded 13 assists in 64 regular season and playoff games.
He was also an important part of Los Dos eliminating the Republic from the playoffs last season, drawing the early penalty kick that helped decide the match and providing an essential pressure outlet for the besieged Los Dos defense.
This season it seems as though McBean has stepped it up, as he is already putting up some impressive numbers. Through just the first eight games of the season for Los Dos he has scored nine goals, the highest in all of USL. In fact, McBean is at the top of the chart in just about every offensive stat that the league tracks. In addition to goals scored, he has recorded the most shots (23), shots on goal (13), and the most points (19) of any player in the league.
Any Republic gameplan has to account for the danger that McBean provides. He is a traditional number nine that can dominate defenders, hold up the ball well, and score goals. While McBean's style of play might be something that Republic center backs Chris Christian and Derek Foran are more comfortable with -- as opposed to the speedy forwards that have given them trouble in the past -- they have a tough challenge ahead of them and are going to earn their paychecks tonight.
An unstoppable force meets a (supposedly) immovable object.
Tonight's match seems to truly be a clash of styles, with the best offense in the West going up against the stingiest defense. Los Dos have scored an impressive two goals per game so far this season, while the Republic have conceded only .5 goals per game.
If there is anything that the last three Sacramento Republic matches have proven, it is that the only way the Quails concede goals is when they shoot themselves in the foot. Whether it is through poor giveaways or just good, old fashioned own goals, all three of the Republic's goals conceded are in large part due to an error or mistake of some kind.
As long as Sacramento hold firm and do not shoot themselves in the foot for a fourth week in a row, they might have a good chance of limiting the prolific Galaxy II attack and possibly come away from StubHub Track and Field Stadium with a point or more.
Hopefully the refereeing crew ate their Wheaties this morning.
I have some bad news for those of you who may be expecting a clean game mostly devoid of fouls: both Los Dos and the Republic are among the Western Conference teams with the most fouls committed. Sacramento has committed the fourth most fouls with 85 through six games (14 per game), while LA are top of the West in fouls with 100 through eight games (12.5 per game).
Contests between these two teams tend to get scrappy in the first place, so it was fairly likely that tonight's match wouldn't win any awards for fair play. The fact that they are both fairly prolific foulers this season just makes a scrappy match seem even more likely.
Expect to hear a lot of whistles tonight.
Obligatory "Can we please for the love of the almighty Quail score a goal" section.
Seriously. Last week's game could have broken the scoring drought but for some pretty poor plays. Although it is a difficult match, tonight would be a great time to break the Republic's scoring drought.
This lineup assumes that there are no loans available. If Kip Colvey is still with the Republic, I expect him to start in place of Kiffe.
What are your thoughts about tonight's match? Anything specific you're looking for? Sound off in the comments below.