Sacramento Republic FC continue their wandering ways on the road today as they face off against Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 at UBC Thunderbird Stadium. Coming off a disappointing 0-1 defeat last week against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, the Republic need a victory to stay in contention for the top spot in the Western Conference.
Whitecaps 2 currently sit second in the Western Conference standings with 32 points but have been struggling lately losing their last two matches. The Republic just sit three points behind Whitecaps 2 in fifth place. Today’s match will mark the second time these two clubs face each other, with the last match ending in a 0-0 draw.
The Republic have never lost to the Whitecaps 2, going 2-0-1 all-time. The Republic will need to focus on the following keys to success to continue their unbeaten streak against their northernmost rivals.
You’ve Lost That Scoring Feeling
Last week was the first shutout loss for the Republic since April 30th against the Orange County Blues FC. Since that match the Republic have been able to find the net with increasing regularity, thanks in part to USL assist leader Danny Barrera and set piece master Mike da Fonte. Last week, da Fonte was serving a one game suspension due to a red card and his presence was certainly missed.
The Republic had some opportunities to find the back of the net, but just like their struggles earlier in the season, their shots were not connecting. With the return of da Fonte to the line-up, the Republic will again have a legitimate scoring threat on set pieces. Forwards Cameron Iwasa and Harry Williams will need to apply much more pressure up the middle this match and score at least one goal. Whitecaps 2 have struggled to stop teams from scoring lately and have given up six goals in their last two matches, which should bode well for Iwasa and Williams.
Need More Energy
I’m not sure if it was the altitude or the pink kits from the Switchbacks last week, but the energy level of the Republic in the first half was the worst I have ever seen from the club. There were countless missed passes and giveaways from the Republic and they were lucky to go into the half 0-0. Paul Buckle was visibly angry and even substituted Harry Williams in the 34th minute for Max Alvarez in an attempt to stop the passing errors.
To the Republic’s credit, they did come out with much better energy in the second half and did look like the stronger team. The Republic will need to come out strong and dominate the possession game. A score in the first half could be the difference since the Republic have struggled to score early this season. Long road trips can drain a team and the Republic are currently on their longest road trip of the season. The Republic will need to dig deep to find the energy to get past the Whitecaps 2.
Contain the Young Talent
15 year old Alphonso Davies made his MLS debut last week for the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, subbing on in the 77th minute against Orlando City SC. This is what Ben Couch of MLSsoccer.com said about his performance
In 13 minutes, Davies revealed flashes of the speed and creativity that earned him pro status, creating the opportunity for a shot that went wide left just after entering the game
Look for Davies to play with Whitecaps 2 today since he was not on the roster for the parent team’s match against the Houston Dynamo. The Republic have seen Davies in action earlier this season and were able to contain him with a smothering defense.
The Republic also need to be mindful of Whitecaps 2 leading scorer Kyle Greig, who has 10 goals so far this season. Though Greig hasn’t been able to score since June 9th, he is still a dangerous threat and will need to be contained by the Republic defense. Look for another close match between these two clubs.
Please let us know what you think are the keys to success this week, in the comments below.