Finally, after five straight road matches over four weeks, Sacramento Republic FC returns to the familiar confines of Bonney Field Saturday to take on newcomers San Antonio FC.
Last Time Out
Tomorrow’s match is the first time that the Republic and SAFC have ever played each other, so there is no last time. Unfortunately, due to the Western Conferences terribly unbalanced schedule, the Republic only face off against San Antonio once this season. This is one of the more disappointing aspects of the unbalanced schedule, other than the fact that the Republic are missing out on potentially wins against the Tulsa Roughnecks.
San Antonio is new to the league this year and just like most ambitious USL clubs, including a certain Indomitable Club that we are all very familiar with, they have not been shy about their MLS ambitions. In fact, San Antonio FC seem to be conducting themselves with an eye to what made the Republic so successful early on, just as the Republic did with Orlando City FC when they first started out.
Given that shared ambition, it is incredibly disappointing that Sacramento Republic and San Antonio FC only get one chance this season to directly compete against one another on the field.
Setting the Table
In what might be a welcome change of pace for the Republic, they are facing a team that is far below them in the Western Conference standings. SAFC are currently in 11th place with 24 points after 19 games, while Republic are in fourth place with 33 points from 21 games. The two teams are fairly similar in goal differential, with Republic having the slightly superior differential of +5 to SAFC’s +3.
Of course, that does not mean that San Antonio are pushovers by any stretch of the imagination, but with that near double digit point gap and home field advantage, the Republic seems to have the upper hand on paper.
Straight From the Source
On this week’s episode of my podcast, Beeman’s Republic, I welcomed Kyle Mahnke and Aaron Marvel of Pitch Black News to help me preview tomorrow’s game against San Antonio FC.
Listen to the episode right here. Skip to 25:45 to get right to the interview.
Second Half Excitement
It should be no surprise to anyone here when I say that Republic games tend to be more exciting in the second half. While that does not necessarily mean that the first 45 minutes is usually boring, the second half just tends to have more excitement. After all, nearly 80% of all goals in Republic games come in the second half.
Tomorrow’s game is likely to have more of the same late-game excitement. While SAFC do not have the same staggering disparity between first and second half goals, a majority of the goals in their games, around 58%, have come in the second 45 minutes.
One player that Republic will want to watch out for in the second half is forward Franck Tayou, who after just seven games and 183 minutes played is already tied for the lead on the San Antonio goal scoring charts with three goals. Tayou seems to specialize in second half mayhem, which might fit right into the Republic’s tendency to make the second 45 minutes exciting.
Player to Watch
One Republic player that I will be keeping my eye on tomorrow is midfielder Danny Barrera, who leads both the Republic and the entire USL in assists. Barrera seemed to catch fire near the midway point of the season after some struggles early on. All of his league-leading seven assists have come in the past nine games, which makes him one of the most on-form players on the Republic roster at the moment.
With the return to Bonney Field tomorrow, and the likely return to a more aggressive and attacking style that comes with being at home, look for Barrera to have even more opportunities to add to his seven assists.
What are your thoughts about tomorrow’s game? What do you think about San Antonio FC? Who is your player to watch? Sound off in the comments below.