Last Saturday’s win over Real Monarchs propelled Sacramento Republic FC into fifth place in the USL Western Conference with at least one game in hand over most of the teams directly above or below them. However, the win did more than put the Republic in a good position in the league table, it gave us some things to think about going forward.
Here are some things we learned after the Republic’s second half comeback against the Monarchs in Reno.
The Republic don’t really do first half goals
Sometimes it gets hard to even believe they exist at all. The Republic have scored a first half goal in just two of their twelve games this season. Of the twelve goals the team has scored this season, all but two have ended up coming in the second half.
When asked about this tendency after the match in Reno, Head Coach Paul Buckle chose instead to focus on the defensive strength the team has displayed in the first 45 minutes of their matches.
I’d like to say how many times we’ve gone in without conceding, really. It took a very good goal to beat us tonight and we were able come back, and if you’re able to come back it shows that you have increadible character.
While Buckle’s response didn’t really offer any insight into why the team can’t seem to get the ball in the net in the first half, he does have a point in that the Republic has largely done well with shutting down opposition attacks in the first half. Of the seven goals the team has conceded this season, only two have come in the first half.
Republic fullbacks >>> your fullbacks.
James Kiffe and Emrah Klimenta have long been regarded as fan favorites in Sacramento, and for good reason. Both are exciting, attacking fullbacks that are given liscense to push forward and make things happen offensively. Both Kiffe and Klimenta have been having good seasons so far this year and seem to be heating up over the last couple games.
The two fullbacks have combined for five of the Republic seven assists this year, Kiffe with three and Klimenta with two. Kiffe’s haul has already doubled his total assists to six, while Klimenta’s total has also been brought up to six. With such good numbers after only 40% of the season gone, it seems likely that both Kiffe and Klimenta are on track for career-best years.
Buckle attributes much of this productivity to the hard work that the pair have put in working on sending in crosses from wide areas.
Well, when I came to the club, James and Emrah were high up the field, they’re attacking fullbacks. It’s no good being up there if you can’t deliver the ball, if you can’t deliver the ball in a good area. We've worked tirelessly with the pair of them. Tirelessly.
And it hasn’t come straight away, it’s come over time. It’s come over by being consistent when we've lost games, when we haven’t delivered good balls. There was a time Emrah was hitting them out of the back and James was nailing them and putting them in great areas. That’s the key. That’s the benefit of working on the training field day in, day out, keep doing the right things.
And all of a sudden now they’re putting in glorious balls. I mean, they are top balls.
Octavio Guzman should have his name written in pen in the starting XI.
While Guzman has not been a stranger to the Republic starting XI, going in and out of the starting spot since 2014, he has shown recently that he absolutely deserves to be a starter this year. After being released by Paul Buckle to push forward more often, Guzman has consistently done well to move the ball forward either through helping to circulate the ball or through his increasingly memorable solo runs through midfield.
Guzman was particularly effective against Real Monarchs last week. On Wednesday his most memorable moment came way late in the match when he took the ball to the corner flag and nearly single-handedly killed about a minute off the clock, showing impressive strength and scintilating skill to hold off and dance around increasingly physical challenges from Monarchs players. Unfortunately there is no gif of that particular piece of brilliance.
However, some of Guzman’s highlights from last Saturday’s match have been immporalized in gif form.
Although he may have had this sort of skill in the past, this year’s Guzman has been given more freedom to try clever and eye-catching things like this. I’m into it.
Though this is less flashy, notice that Guzman was an important part of the buildup for both Republic goals last Saturday, playing the middle man in the one-two passes that led to both the equalizer and game winner.
Reno away games are going to be amazing.
This just goes without saying, really. Last Saturday’s match in Reno had around 100 Tower Bridge Battallion members in attendance and an overall crowd of 5182. And that was just for a match between the Republic and the Monarchs. A match between the Republic and Reno 1868 should get even more fans for an ever more entertaining game.
Huge crowds, local rivalries, fireworks, and
casinos interesting local amenities? Sounds like a great time to me.
What do you think we learned from the Republic’s win over Real Monarchs? Sound off in the comments below.