This week is a bit of an unusual one for Sacramento Republic FC. Not only are they playing two league games in one week, they are playing both of them against Real Monarchs, and are playing one of them (Saturday's game) in Reno, Nevada. First up in this week's action is tonight's game at Bonney Field.
Here are some things to keep in mind ahead of tonight's match. For some other light reading, check out our Keys to Success for the game.
There's a first time for everything
Republic fans who remember the 2015 season vividly might recall that tonight's match is not the first time that the Republic and the Monarchs are going to be facing off against one another. The two teams played four matches last season and despite the Monarchs being one of the worst teams in the league that year, the Republic were unable to get a win over them. In a year that pretty much every team was able to get three points off the Monarchs, the Republic finished the season with a record of one loss and a three draws. To have a team that was one of the weakest in the league on paper continuously take points from the apparently superior Republic team was one of the most frustrating things about the 2015 season.
Thankfully, though, this is a brand new season and a chance to start this year's three contests between these two teams with a win. Unfortunately for the Republic, this Monarchs team seems to be better than last year's model. Rather than last year's perennial basement dwellers, this year the Monarchs are sitting tight in the middle of the Western Conference table, just one point ahead of the Republic but with two more games played.
If the Republic can get their first ever win over the Monarchs, they can potentially jump up quite a few spots in the Western Conference table.
Brother can you spare a player?
Try not to fall out of your seat when you read this, but we can actually say that it is pretty likely that the Republic will have some San Jose Earthquakes loan players with them this week. The Quakes do not have a game to play until June 18th, and those gaps in their schedule are usually when we see Tommy Thompson and Adam Jahn up here in Sacramento.
Despite how you may feel about player loans and the affiliation between the Republic and the Quakes, the prospect of having TT and Jahn on the field tonight is obviously an exciting one. Thompson is one of the most talented players to ever put on the Old Glory Red and his quality is evident every time he steps on the field. Having him gives the Republic a player that has the potential to turn the game on its head and really give the Quails an attacking advantage.
While Jahn does not have his own personal hype train, he also gives the Republic something it does not usually have: an aerial threat up top. Jahn is better than any other Republic forward in the air, can hold up the ball well, can play effectively with his back to goal, and can battle one-on-one with opposing center backs. Republic coach Paul Buckle usually uses the term "presence" to describe target forwards like Jahn. For instance, here are his comments from last weekend's draw with Los Dos regarding Jahn coming on as a substitute.
Jahn came on and was a presence. That's what you expect from Adam Jahn. He's an 18 yard box player, he's a hold-up man, and he tried to get on the end of everything. Every ball that went into the box he got on the end of.
If the Republic have both Thompson and Jahn, they will be better equipped offensively and will be more dangerous in front of the goal. Thompson has shown himself to be effective on the ball and Jahn can provide an extra element to the Republic attack.
DTS will be MIA
Daniel Trickett-Smith, the latest addition to the Republic roster, scored his first USL goal -- a dramatic late header from close range -- to rescue a point against Los Dos last Saturday. In doing so he helped to justify the hype that has surrounded him since he first stepped foot in Sacramento, brought on partly by his Liverpool pedigree and partly by his exciting on-field performances.
However, in addition to his first USL goal, DTS also received his first USL red card last weekend and as such will be unavailable for tonight's match. Buckle was unhappy with Trickett-Smith's sending off, and while it is unfortunate that the Republic will be missing out on one of their more exciting attacking players, but it was totally and completely justified.
Predicted Starting XI
Here is a possible starting lineup that we might see tonight.
Up top, Harry "Prince of Quails" Williams has largely been effective for the Republic recently and it seems likely that Buckle will have him in the starting XI. Who will partner him is a uncertain, with Adam Jahn and Cameron Iwasa being the two likeliest candidates in my mind. As mentioned above, Jahn offers good hold-up play and is an aerial threat, but Iwasa is a workhorse and is the Republic's co-leading goal scorer.
In midfield, Koval was taken off the injury list and put on the bench last Saturday, so hopefully he will be able to make his return tonight. His partner in central midfield could either be Octavio Guzman, Danny Barrera, or Agustin Cazarez. For me, Guzman has been the most effective of the trio and is who I would like to see start.
Finally, Derek Foran may have made an extremely costly mistake, but I do not see Buckle taking him out of the starting XI for it. This is due in part because Foran has been one of the better defenders for the Republic this season, his periodic head-scratching mistakes notwithstanding. Plus, with Carlos Rodriguez maybe not being fully recovered from a hamstring injury and Mike da Fonte having little to no playing time this season, it does not look as though there is a viable replacement for Foran.
What are your thoughts on tonight's game? Do you think we'll be seeing a different starting lineup? Sound off in the comments below.