Sacramento Republic FC embarks on yet another road trip tonight as they face Western Conference rivals Los Angeles Galaxy II in part one of a two game series. The Republic are undefeated against Los Dos when on the road, and the Quails will look to take three points to retain both that streak and their first place standing in the Western Conference.
There has been much excitement surrounding the Galaxy franchise this week as long-time MLS great Landon Donovan does his best Michael Jordan impression and comes out of retirement to play with his old club. The announcement prompted speculation on whether Donovan would play for Los Dos in order to get fit or just jump right in to the Galaxy’s first team. Fortunately for the Republic, Donovan’s decision came after the USL roster freeze date on September 6, meaning that he is unable to be loaned down to Los Dos.
Here are the Republic’s keys to success in tonight’s match against Los Dos.
Find the Back of the Net Early
It’s no great secret or surprise that the Republic have difficulties scoring early. Only 27% of the Republic’s 37 goals this season have come in the first half.
Despite that difficulty scoring in the first 45 minutes, the Republic have tended to come on strong in the second halves of matches and have even been able to put teams away after trailing the first half. However, breaking the mold and scoring early against Los Dos would be beneficial, as it would force the opponent to push up to find an equalizer and could leave them exposed to a counter attack.
The Republic could cripple Los Dos if they can find the back of the net early. Last week Los Dos got down 2-0 against the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC in the first half and couldn’t overcome the early goals. The Republic are great at keeping possession of the ball and could take control the match if they are able to score early. Cameron Iwasa should be aggressive early on and get that record-setting 12th goal of the season. Coach Paul Buckle should also consider letting Carlton Cole start to draw the defense away from Iwasa.
As stated earlier, the Republic have been a good possession team and generally control a majority of their matches. As the probable captain for tonight’s match, Danny Barrera will need to lead the midfield and make some smart decisions with his passes. Barrera will likely get some help from Octavio Guzman, who should get his touches and be a contributor for the midfield. Rookie Matt LaGrassa, who has also come on strong lately and earned his place among the starters, should also be a big help tonight. Paul Buckle and the Republic are fortunate in that there is a glut of good midfielders on the roster, as that fairly wide selection of talent is a good reason why the club sits atop the Western Conference.
Los Dos failed to score last week and have only won once in their past seven matches. Look for Los Dos to be aggressive and try to put the Republic on their heels by scoring early. The Republic will need to retain possession to stifle the Los Dos attack. These two clubs have been on two different paths lately and this match could be a make or break moment for Los Dos, which could make them dangerous.
Despite the danger, the Republic should come away with a victory tonight and stay on top of the Western Conference.
Let us know what you think are the keys to success against the Galaxy II in the comments below.