Do you ever get the feeling you’ve seen this before? This Wednesday at Bonney Field, Sacramento Republic FC will once again face-off against Real Monarchs SLC for the third time in a month. The Republic were victorious in the past two meetings and will look to complete the season sweep of the Monarchs to extend their unbeaten streak to 10 games.
The Monarchs are in the midst of a slump, which started with a loss to the Republic back on June 8th, having lost five of their last six matches. The Monarchs had an opportunity to grab a point at home last week against Western Conference leaders Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2, but a late go-ahead goal from WFC2 ruined any chances for the Monarchs.
This will be the Republic’s last home game before heading out on a five game road trip. The Republic will need to focus on the following keys to success to tie their franchise best 10 game unbeaten streak:
Maintain Defense in the Face of Uncertainty
This game will be the toughest test for the Republic defense this season due in part to missing two key starters. One missing starter is Emrah Klimenta, who will likely be out due to a freak knee injury he sustained against Seattle Sounders 2 this past Saturday. Klimenta has been key for the Republic at right back this season with his solid play at defense and his ability to create scoring chances. Joaquin Rivas will likely reprise his role as replacement right back tonight, much like he did when Klimenta was away on international duty for Montenegro earlier in the season.
Another starter that will miss the match is center back and defensive anchor, Chris Christian. Christian accumulated his fifth yellow card last Saturday against Seattle Sounders 2 and will be suspended for the match. Christian has started and played the full 90 minutes in every league match this season and is a large part of the defensive identity of the Republic.
With Christian gone, Derek Foran and Mike da Fonte will most likely start at the center back positions, a pairing which hasn’t been seen yet this season. With a backline of Rivas, da Fonte, Foran and Kiffe, the Republic will have their hands full in trying to maintain their usual dominating defense.
Still Need to Finish Better
As I stated last week in the keys to success against Seattle Sounders 2, the Republic have a difficult time finishing their chances. Granted, Sounders 2 goalkeeper Charlie Lyon had a spectacular game to only allow two goals on 21 shots. However, the Republic should be capitalizing on these many opportunities and scoring at least three goals a match. The Republic have been dominating teams as of late and it is unfortunate the score doesn’t reflect the hard work on the field.
Win the Possession Game
The Monarchs are notorious time wasters and have a knack of getting under the skin of the Republic and their fans. The Republic will need to dominate possession to limit the effectiveness of the tacky style of play the Monarchs are known for. Midfielders Danny Barrera and JJ Koval will need to find the open players with accurate passes and keep turnovers to a minimum. If Koval gets the start it will certainly help out the defense and give the central midfield a solid foundation for possession.
Coach Paul Buckle has his work cut out for him this match and will need to be creative with his lineup to put pressure on the Monarchs. If the match is close, look for the Monarchs to waste time.
Please let us know what you think are the keys to success this week in the comments below.