Sacramento Republic FC look to continue their ascension of the USL Western Conference this Saturday when they welcome Rio Grande Valley FC (Toros) to Bonney Field for the first time. Unbeaten in their last six league matches, the Republic have been on a rather hot streak lately and will face an equally talented team in Rio Grande Valley.
According to this week's Western Conference Power Rankings, the Republic and Toros are even in Elo points, with 1,116 each. This match could potentially be the biggest test for the Quails this season.
The Republic will need to follow these keys to success to wrangle the Toros:
Score in the First Half
It's not news to anyone that the Republic have failed to score much in the first half this season. In fact, they have only scored in the first half twice this season. The Republic have been able to win despite their lack of first half goals with a combination of a stout defense and second half opportunities. Besides the LA Galaxy II and the Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2, the Toros will be the toughest opponent the Republic have faced this season.
Fortunately for the Republic, the Toros have given up 15 goals this season and it is quite possible that there will be plenty of scoring opportunities. The San Jose Earthquakes do return to action this Saturday and there is no word if the Republic will see either Adam Jahn or Tommy Thompson. The pressure will fall upon the young forwards Harry Williams and Cameron Iwasa to find the back of the net in the first half.
Keep the Sheets Clean
Dominik Jakubek is one of the more dominating goalkeepers in the league today. He is currently second in the league with a Goals Against Average of .058. It is more important for Jakubek to shutout an opponent since the Republic have such a difficult time scoring. In fact, in each of the Republic's three losses, it was only necessary for Jakubek to gave up a only single goal due to the offense's inability to regularly score.
However, giving up a single goal in a match isn't a guaranteed loss. Last week against the Real Monarchs SLC, Jakubek was caught off guard and allowed Ricardo Velazco a chip shot on goal. Fortunately, the Republic stormed back and scored twice to come away with the victory. With the first half scoring woes continuing for the Republic, it will be extremely important not to allow any goals.
Go it Alone
As stated earlier, it is unlikely that the Republic will see any loans from the Earthquakes this week. It will be interesting to see if Harry Williams and Cameron Iwasa are up for the challenge to man the forward line of the U.S.S. Quail. Adam Jahn was instrumental in the Republic's last two victories against Monarchs SLC, scoring game winning goal on both June 8th and last Saturday.
Without the support of Jahn and Thompson, it may be difficult for the Republic to mount an effective attack. Daniel Trickett-Smith is apossible answer to that problem, as the talented midfielder can create scoring opportunities and is excellent at free kicks. Assuming Smith is healthy, his services will be needed this weekend. While not a direct answer for the absence of Jahn or Thompson, the growth of midfielder Octavio Guzman could also help the Republic this weekend. Seemingly fully recovered from an earlier battle with injuries, he has been more aggressive in the attack and his ball handling skills have improved. I, for one, am interested to see if the Republic can go it alone and win without loan support.
Please let us know what you think are the keys to success this week in the comments below.