We are nearly three fourths of the way through this USL season, so we thought it would be good to go back and visit an earlier question of the week where the Indomitable City Soccer crew tackled our ideal lineups. With three players we originally wanted starting for Republic now no longer available (Ivan Mirkovic and Tommy Stewart are gone, Emrah Klimenta is injured), things have changed quite a bit.
Omar Gonzalez (@omarvelously)
Republic needs to be more direct with the ball, in my opinion. We like to play from the back and keep possession, but last weekend's game against San Antonio showed that we struggle against a team that knows how to play a high back line and pressure well. It's also versatile in that if the team needs more offensive power, you take out JJ Koval, drop Guzman into his holding mid role and put in Tommy Thompson in midfield. Alternatively, you can also take out Mackenzie Pridham, push up Cameron Iwasa and drop Daniel Trickett-Smith behind him.
Josh Beeman (@Josh_Beeman)
With the current lack of depth up top and in defense, there is really little in the way of wiggle room when looking for an ideal lineup. Chris Christian and Mike da Fonte have proven to be stalwart center backs, James Kiffe is a must-have if he is healthy, and Kip Colvey is the best replacement for Emrah Klimenta that the Republic have. Up top, new Republic signing Carlton Cole seems to be the big, target forward that the team was been looking for. He and Cameron Iwasa could develop into an effective strike partnership with Cole leading the line and Iwasa playing off of him.
The midfield is really where the choices come into play. While Danny Barrera and Octavio Guzman arguably play their best individually when at central midfield, they are more useful to the team out wide right now. Barrera can work in crosses from out wide or cut inside to try to make something happen with the occasional through ball or shot from distance. The tandem of defensive midfielder JJ Koval and the well rounded, box-to-box midfielder, Jordan Hall, would give Republic a defensively sound but not overly static midfield.
Evan Eyster (@IronPonyChef)
I would prefer to see Sacramento roll out in a more non-typical 4-3-2-1 formation for the remainder of the season. There is no doubt that the loss of Emrah Klimenta is not something that can be easily replaced, or arguably something even possible to replace at this point in the season. Trying to work young talent Carlos Rodriguez into the lineup is something that Republic should concentrate on. As we've seen with his play the team's non-USL matches, he has talent and could slip in the center back role with Chris Christian eventually. As we saw in the San Antonio game, however, he is still learning the system and how to work well with the first team. Keeping Mike da Fonte at center back is the best move. As Rodriguez grows, da Fonte, who has more open play offensive tendencies, can slide out as Rodriguez moves in.
In the midfield, I would like to see three defensively minded players who will in most situations drop back instead of push forward. With Kiffe having the potential to make runs up the wing, and da Fonte joining him at times, the play of JJ Koval and Jordan Hall will be critical. These two must hold the back line when the defense makes their runs. Guzman may be the most versatile player on the Republic, and will be able to push forward with the strikers, or fall back and provide a solid defensive presence as needed.
Up top, the group of Danny Barrera and Cameron Iwasa will be working in tandem with newcomer Carlton Cole. A tall and experienced striker is one thing that Republic has been missing this season. With Barrera suddenly turning into the master of the assist and Iwasa still providing a constant threat, all three players can develop and grow with each other.
George Shiel (@GeorgeMShiel)
I like Newton to start since I think he is the more athletic keeper on the roster. For defense, Kiffe has earned his spot for life, but trying to find a replacement for Klimenta is difficult. I'd like to see Hall in his natural right fullback position. Christian is definitely the club's best center back and da Fonte brings an extra opportunity for a score with his ability to find the right place for a shot.
For midfield I'd like to keep Barrera and Koval in the center for some defensive help. On the outside, I want to see more Trickett Smith, assuming he's 100%. On the opposite end, Guzman has proven his ability and looks like he's improving as the season wears on.
Although scoring has been a sore subject for the Republic this season, Iwasa and Williams seem to be the best bet. It'll be interesting how a signing like Cole will be for the attack, but it's too early for me to choose him yet.
Jeff Shunta (@JTShunta)
I honestly believe adding a proven scorer like Cole is going to make the rest of the team seem a lot more impactful, since really the biggest issue for the team so far has been an inability to capitalize on quality chances.
Pridham, while not starting, should absolutely see time on the pitch every game, as he brings a tangible spark that seems to be missing from a good number of Republic matches.
Those are our picks for how we want the Republic to roll out for the rest of the season. What lineups do you like best? Are all of us wrong and there is a lineup that we have been missing? Sound off in the comments below about who you think should get the starts.