Sacramento Republic FC head away from the comfortable confines of Bonney Field this week in order to face off against Arizona United SC at Peoria Sports Complex in the sweltering heat of Peoria, Arizona. Tonight’s game is the Republic’s first true away match (the Reno game against Real Monarchs hardly counts) since May 7, when they got three points off of LA Galaxy II at the StubHub Track and Field Stadium.
Last Time Out
Tonight’s match will be the second time this season that the Republic and Arizona United meet in USL play this season, the first being this year’s home opener on April 2. The Republic pulled out a 1-0 win in that match thanks to a late goal from Cameron Iwasa, who came on as a substitute in the 80th minute and scored in the 84th. That victory was the Republic’s second of the season and their only win for the entire month of April. In the four other games that month the team earned a miserable one point out of a possible twelve.
Tonight’s match will also be the first time this year that the Quails have traveled to the toasty confines of Peoria Sports Complex. While the weather might be on Arizona United’s side — the temperature at kickoff may be in the triple digits — history favors the Republic.
Since 2014, when both teams joined the USL, the Republic have played three games in Arizona and have a record of two wins and one loss. The Republic also hold the advantage in the overall series against AZU with four wins, one loss, and two draws over seven games.
Setting the Table
Both teams come into tonight’s match in fairly different spots in the Western Conference standings.
The Republic are currently in second place with a narrow one point lead over the three-way tie of Colorado Springs Switchbacks, Rio Grande Valley FC, and LA Galaxy II. A win tonight would help the Republic separate themselves from the third place trio, especially Colorado Springs, who have a game in hand, but it would not let the Republic overtake conference leaders Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2, who are four points ahead.
Whereas Arizona United, on the other hand, are on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. The Firebirds sit in 12th place with 16 points and a game in hand over most of the teams above them in the standings. However, the middle of the Western Conference is extremely tight, with only three points separating 6th place Saint Louis from AZU in 12th. A win tonight and some friendly results from around the league could see the Firebirds move up as high as 8th.
Dealing with Adam Jahn’s absence.
Ok, no, seriously this time. I’ve talked about the possibility of Adam Jahn being unavailable for the Republic a few times and been wrong every time. However, the Davis native did not train with the Republic this week, so it looks like he will likely be gone for real this time. This is a bit concerning since he has been an important part of the Republic’s recent offensive success and the possibility of a Jahn-less forward pairing is concerning.
If you’ve read past previews or listened to any recent Beeman’s Republic podcasts, you know why missing Jahn means trouble for the Republic. Basically, it will make it more difficult for the rest of the team to get good looks on goal. Jahn’s aerial ability and talent for bodying up on center backs, his "presence" as Paul Buckle likes to call it, is something that makes the job of other Republic attackers easier. He is able to get on the end of high crosses put in by the fullbacks and, perhaps more importantly, he is able to actually make something happen with the long, hopeful balls out of the back that we’ve often seen from Republic center backs this year.
For more on how Jahn makes those around him more effective, read this from earlier in the week.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that the offense is suddenly going to be rendered powerless. The Republic are less reliant on the mostly ineffectual tactic of sending in an endless stream of balls from the center backs to the forwards, which has helped increase the quality of chances being provided.
The Cameron Iwasa Show
The past few games have been The Cameron Iwasa Show through and through. The Sacramento native has come up huge for the Republic, most recently in his Man of the Match caliber performance last week, in which he scored the fastest goal in Republic history on his way to a brace. If the past few games are any indication, the Republic will need him to continue his good form if the want to get three points out of tonight’s game.
What are your thoughts about tonight’s match against Arizona United? Let us know in the comments below.