Sacramento Republic FC return home this Saturday to face the Seattle Sounders FC 2 for the third time this season. Coming off a 1-1 draw against Arizona United SC last week, the Republic look to gain some ground in the standings against a struggling Sounders 2 team that only have three wins on the season.
The Sounders 2 are having a disappointing season and have failed to score against the Republic in their previous two matches. Currently tied for last in the Western Conference in goals scored with 13, the Sounders 2 will be itching to find the back of the net and get back to winning. The Republic have a great opportunity to gain three points this weekend and extend their unbeaten streak to nine games in a row.
To keep their unbeaten streak alive, the Republic will need to focus on the following keys to success:
Improve the Finish
The Republic have been improving on offense lately, with forward Cameron Iwasa has leading the way as Sacramento’s top scorer. Iwasa has five goals on the season and he threatened to add more with an impressive showing against Arizona last week. The Republic had trouble finishing when they had the ball inside Arizona’s penalty box and should have scored at least two more goals.
The first opportunity for a goal came from Iwasa when he was left alone in the penalty box without the opposing goalkeeper in the 41st minute. Iwasa one-touched the ball but it was headed off the line by Arizona forward Tyler Blackwood. In the second half, defender Emrah Klimenta sent a low cross into the box only to have Mackenzie Pridaham and Octavio Guzman take a combined three shots on goal which resulted in zero actual goals.
The Republic have been excellent at crossing the ball into the box lately but will need to improve the finishing to put teams away. Against one of the worst defenses in the league, the Republic have an opportunity to finish strong.
Maintain the Defensive Status Quo
Paul Buckle has ingrained his philosophy of establishing a strong defense into the Republic’s psyche, which has led to the team's continued defensive dominance of the league. The Republic have done well at making it a struggle for opponents to find the back of the net and have been rewarded with a Western Conference best 10 goals allowed. The Sounders 2 come to town with the worst offense in the Western Conference and the Republic’s defense will need to continue their defensive dominance, something which the back line should be able to handle.
Avoid the Trap
Although the Republic should be able to handle the Sounders 2 this Saturday, sometimes teams can overlook an opponent and fall victim to a trap game. The Sounders 2 may only have three wins this season but two of those wins came against the top two teams in the Western Conference. Although they are one of the worst teams in the league on paper, the Sounders 2 are dangerous and can play with the top teams in the conference.
To avoid the trap game, the Republic will have to respect their opponent and play extremely hard. Thankfully, I have yet to see the Republic not take a match seriously this season and I don’t expect a Buckle-coached team to take it easy.
Please let us know what you think are the keys to success this week in the comments below.