Sacramento Republic FC return to USL league play tonight with a match against familiar foes Los Angeles Galaxy II. After a disastrous midweek US Open Cup loss to the Kitsap Pumas, the Republic are looking to bounce back hard with a greatly improved performance.
Wednesday was bad. Tonight needs to be better.
Before we get into the details of this preview, let's get the obvious out of the way first. Wednesday's game was bad. It was second worst game I've ever seen bad. It was non-stop talking for 30 minutes on a podcast bad. But whether you call it the Massacre at Bonney, Burnination at Bonney, or the Silence of the Quails, there is some good news. It's over. It's done. And now it is time to hopefully move on to better things.
To me, that is mostly what tonight's match boils down to. Yes, it is an important league match with three points on the line against the second placed team in the USL Western Conference. But it is also a chance for the Republic to bounce back from a terribly disappointing midweek game and show the world that the team we saw in May is the team they really are.
The Republic could really use a win tonight. George Shiel gave us some Keys to the Game yesterday, here are a few more things to keep in mind ahead of tonight's match.
Our house, in the middle of your house.
As anyone who has paid attention to ICS writer Evan Eyster's By the Numbers posts has seen, home field advantage seems to mean little when these two teams play. For instance, seven of the eleven matches that the Republic and Los Dos have played were won by the away team. The split is fairly even as well, with Sacramento winning four of the seven and Los Dos winning three. In fact, of the six times the Sacramento-LA rivalry has been played out in the capital (five at Bonney Field, once at Hughes Stadium), Los Dos has won three times, most recently to knock the Republic out of the 2015 playoffs.
We need more Derek Foran in our lives (and our back four).
Although he was not a starter last season, in 2016 Derek Foran has cemented himself a key role in the Republic's defense and his absence was felt during Wednesday's USOC elimination. While he was not listed on the official injury list, Foran was kept out of the matchday 18 as game-time decision -- meaning that Buckle decided only on Wednesday if Foran would play or not.
While nothing is for sure and we have no real way of knowing at the point, the fact that Foran's being kept off the field was due solely to a game-time decision might mean that he will be good to go tonight. If he is able to play tonight that would be welcome news to many a Republic fan, as he will surely be needed to deal with the offensive threat of league-leading scorer Jack McBean.
USL's top goalscorer comes to Bonney Field.
Jack McBean has been at this professional soccer thing for a while. At just 21, he has already been a professional with the LA Galaxy organization for five years. Los Dos have been the beneficiaries of that experience many times since 2014 and this season is no different.
McBean comes into tonight's match as the USL's leading goalscorer with 11 goals in 11 matches, an average of one goal per game. While the majority of his total goals have come from a few dominant multi-goal games -- he scored two against St. Louis in March , three against Colorado Springs in May, and two against Arizona last weekend, he has also done a lot of scoring outside those man of the match caliber performances. All in total, McBean has scored in seven of the Galaxy II's eleven games.
Despite this record of dominance throughout USL, McBean was largely rendered ineffective the last time these two teams met down in LA, registering four shots but no shots on goal. However, given the history between these two teams, McBean might have a better night away from home at Bonney Field.
Here is a possible lineup for tonight's match.
Harry Williams and Daniel Trickett-Smith sat out of the opening 45 minutes on Wednesday, presumably to rest them for tonight's game. Both the Prince and DTS have been putting together some exciting performances and have a sizable portion of the Republic fanbase sufficiently hyped up about their potential. Tonight's match against Los Dos would be a fantastic time for the pair to go from promising to productive.
Ideally any Republic central midfield pairing would have JJ Koval in it. However, we do not know for sure if he is healthy at the moment, so it seems likely that a pairing of some combination of Danny Barrera, Octavio Guzman, and Agustin Cazarez will be taking the field. However, it is also possible that all three see the field with two in the middle and one at right midfield.
For the record, if this was a preferred starting XI you would see Max Alvarez starting on the right wing. But since this is more of a prediction and he has seen little playing time this season, it is unlikely that we will be seeing him start tonight.
If Foran is healthy enough to play tonight he should absolutely start alongside his usual partners in (mostly) rock solid defense. If he is not healthy, Mike da Fonte will likely have a chance to redeem himself for a less than stellar USOC performance.
What are you expecting out of tonight's match? Did you consult your crystal quail egg? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.