Sacramento Republic have a problem with their fullbacks.
It is not a talent problem. James Kiffe and Emrah Klimenta are just about as talented a fullback tandem as a team can get at the USL level. The issue is that neither of them are available. Emrah Klimenta is out for the season and James Kiffe picked up his fifth yellow card of the season last weekend agaisnt San Antonio FC, which means that he’ll be serving a one-game suspension this weekend while the rest of the Republic travel to play Saint Louis FC.
Fullback, an already important position in modern soccer, is especially crucial for the Republic. Paul Buckle likes to push his fullbacks up into the attack to try and create chances from wide areas, something that is difficult to do without Kiffe and Klimenta, two players who fit that mold better than anyone else on the roster.
With both of his first choices at fullback out for this weekend, Paul Buckle has some decisions to make about his second choices.
Here are a few players that I would like to see at fullback this weekend.
You may not remember this since he has played almost exclusively in midfield since coming to Sacramento, but Jeremy Hall originally came to the Republic from the Tampa Bay Rowdies as a defender. More specifically, he came as a fullback, as Paul Buckle’s comments in the above press release reveal.
We are pleased to welcome Jeremy to the club. It is obvious that we needed strength in the back after losing Emrah to injury and Jeremy is someone that provides that for us
While Hall has proven over his three games with the Republic that he is a valuable asset in central midfield, this weekend he could prove to be even more useful filling in at fullback. Hall has shown that he has good awareness, solid defensive skills, and can hit clean, accurate passes with regularity, all thing that would definitely be helpful on the Republic back line this weekend.
The San Jose Earthquakes loan player was not in the Republic’s 18 last weekend against San Antonio, but he is the most natural choice to go in at fullback this weekend. Colvey has appeared at fullback for the Republic six times thus far this season, most recently in a 12 minute cameo against Rio Grande Valley FC.
Just like Kiffe and Klimenta, Colvey is a fullback that likes to go forward and get involved in the attack. Although he has not left fans starry-eyed with his performances, Colvey has been solid enough in his appearances that a start in such a dire situation as this weekend would not at all be surprising.
Mike da Fonte
Da Fonte has played almost exclusively at center back with Republic this year and New York Red Bulls II last year, but he does have past experience as a fullback and could fill in if needed, just as he did last weekend against San Antonio FC. However, as his performances this season can attest, he seems to do his best work at center back rather than out wide.
Moving da Fonte back out to fullback is not exactly ideal, but the Republic’s fullback situation is anything but ideal at the moment. So while he might not be the best fit for the athletic, up-and-down, chance generating fullback that Paul Buckle wants, da Fonte is a good fit for the someone-who-knows-the-position-and-can-defend fullback that the he needs.
Two other players who could find themselves at fullback this weekend are Octavio Guzman and Agustin Cazarez. Both have filled in there in the past, but they are better utilized in midfield than in the backline.
Who do you think should fill in for the Republic at fullback this weekend? Sound off in the comments below.