After a high scoring and dramatic win over Saint Louis FC last weekend, Sacramento Republic FC return home to Bonney Field tomorrow to play host Portland Timbers 2. The match is a huge opportunity for Republic to earn three points against a fairly weak opponent, three points that would be enormously helpful in separating them from the rest of the teams vying for the top spot in the Western Conference.
Last Time Out
The last time Republic and Timbers 2 faced off, it at Merlo Field on April 17, right in the middle of possibly the worst month of the season. The Republic’s 1-0 loss in that match was the first of three straight 1-0 losses that month.
Without a doubt, the most memorable moment of the match was T2’s goal and the Derek Foran mistake that led to it. In the opening moments of the second half, Foran, the last defender at the time, made a risky play with the ball while being pressured by T2 forward and 2015 USL Rookie of the Year, Kharlton Belmar. Belmar dispossessed Foran, dribbled unopposed to the top of the penalty area, and curled a shot past a stranded Dominik Jakubek.
While that moment might be the most memorable, there were positives from the match.
Cameron Iwasa nearly had a goal in the 31st minute with a powerful shot from distance and JJ Koval was nearly in position to pounce on the rebound after T2’s Wade Hamilton parried the shot away.
Later, San Jose Earthquakes loan player Tommy Thompson nearly got on the scoresheet twice in the 63rd minute but was denied by some fantastic and frantic defending from T2.
A red card to Adam Jahn capped off the disappointing day, leaving the Republic a man down for the last 15 minutes of a tough game.
Setting the Table
If remembering that earlier loss got you down feel free to direct your attention to the USL Western Conference Standings, where Sacramento Republic and Portland Timbers 2 are just about as far as two teams can be. The Republic is currently tied for first on points but second place thanks to tiebreakers. T2, meanwhile, is in 14th place and is the lowest team that is not called the Tulsa Roughnecks.
Republic have a goal differential of +6 with 30 goals scored and 24 conceded. T2 have a goal differential of -8 with 25 goals scored and 33 conceded.
On paper, it seems like this game should be a pretty easy win for Republic. In addition to the wide gap in points and apparent quality, the match takes place at Bonney Field. While Bonney has not exactly been the impregnable fortress this season that it was in previous years, the Republic certainly has an advantage in front of their home crowd.
Then again, I said the same thing about the match against San Antonio two weeks ago and that didn’t turn out so well. T2 might be a team that has struggled this season, but it is still a team full of talented players that are more than capable of punishing mistakes and taking three points on the road.
Republic will need to be careful not to make any of the costly mistakes that helped them lose in April if they are to come away with three points tomorrow.
As nearly all Republic fans are aware by now, the team recently signed a trio of new forwards, headlined by former Premier League striker Carlton Cole.
Although Cole has not spent time training with Republic yet, apparently due to passport issues, and is therefore unlikely to make an appearance, other recent signings Christian Chaney and Wilson Kneeshaw could possibly make their debuts. However, although it is possible that either Chaney, a prolific goalscorer at the PDL level, or Kneeshaw, pacey and talented but young and woefully inexperienced, could supplant Harry Williams or Mackenzie Pridham as go-to partners for Cameron Iwasa, it does not seem likely. If either of the new players get some time tomorrow, it will likely be as a second-half substitute.
Be sure to check Indomitable City Soccer tomorrow to see what the Republic will need to do in order to walk away with all three points in another of our weekly Keys to Success articles.
What do you expect to happen in tomorrow’s match? Will we see any of the new forwards? Will Republic get the another crucial three points? Sound off in the comments below!