Sacramento Republic FC return to Bonney Field tonight after their dominating offensive performance last week against Saint Louis FC. The Republic will face the Portland Timbers 2 for the second time this season and look to avenge an earlier loss.
The Republic currently sit in a three way tie atop of the Western Conference with 37 points. T2 are not as fortunate and sit near the bottom of the Western Conference with 25 points and a -8 goal differential. The Republic should be able to come away with a victory, but that’s not a guarantee. Three out of the Republic’s six losses have come from teams that currently sit out of a playoff spot.
The Republic will need to follow these keys for success to even up the series against T2:
Replicate Last Week’s Offensive Performance
The Republic have not executed on offense as well as they did last week since the days of Preki. After an entire season of struggling to find the net during the first half, the Republic exploded with three goals in the first 20 minutes and another in the second half. Great performances by first time starter Matt LaGrassa and Earthquakes loanee Tommy Thompson, who notched a pair of assists each, propelled the Republic offense.
T2’s defense has not been great this season and the Republic have a great opportunity to repeat last week’s goal explosion. LaGrassa has definitely earned another start at midfield and should help distribute the ball to a charging Cameron Iwasa or Harry Williams. The Republic should stick to the same game plan and have LaGrassa and Thompson (assuming he is available) find the open striker.
Shore up the Defense
The Republic were fortunate to have such an incredible offensive performance last week because they also gave up three goals in a poor defensive performance. Throughout the season, the Republic has prided themselves on having a staunch defense and preventing teams from scoring multiple goals. That was not what we saw against Saint Louis.
However, the failures were not attributed to the defense alone. Goalkeeper Evan Newton was also having an off night and let at least one goal get by him that hit him directly on the hands.
Portland is not as much of a scoring threat as Saint Louis, but that does not mean the Republic can relax. James Kiffe will return this week after serving a suspension for yellow card accumulation and that should help shore up the left side. The right back position, however, is another issue entirely. Although it is currently unknown how much playing time he will get, the Republic recently signed UC Davis Alum Elliott Hord on Friday from the PDL’s Fresno Fuego as a defensive reinforcement.
Let’s not see a repeat of this.
Not tonight and preferably not ever.
Please let us know what you think are the keys to success this week in the comments below.