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Match Preview: Sacramento Republic vs LA Galaxy II

We come to it at last. The final home game of the regular season.

Photo Gallery: Sacramento Republic vs Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 Indomitable City Soccer/Alex Leguizamo

Sacramento Republic FC play their last regular season home game of the year tomorrow when they play host to So-Cal rivals LA Galaxy II. It will be the second time in two weeks that Republic and Los Dos will face off against each other and the fourth time overall this season.

Last Time Out

Last week’s 1-1 draw between Republic and Galaxy II was, in a word, boring.

Galaxy II took the lead in the first half thanks to a strange goal by Ari Lassiter in the 38th minute.

The home team held their lead for most of the match, but Republic were able to equalize late thanks to a goal from newcomer and apparent super-sub Wilson Kneeshaw.

Kneeshaw’s goal against Los Dos was his second of the season for Republic in only his third appearance since joining the team August 11. In those three appearances, Kneeshaw has only played a total of 71 minutes, making his goal scoring all the more impressive. He may not be getting significant time on the field, but the few times has has come on, he has made an impact.

Setting the Table

Heading into last weekend’s game, Republic and Galaxy II were fairly far apart from one another in the Western Conference Standings. Between then and now the gap has closed somewhat and Los Dos are now in fourth place, five points behind the first-place Republic.

The outcome of tomorrow’s match is crucial for both teams. For Republic, it is a chance to not only clinch a home game for the playoffs by guaranteeing a top-two finish. A win tomorrow over Galaxy II will be enough to ensure a top-two finish for Republic and put them in a good position for a deep run in the playoffs.

As good as that is, though, it is not Republic’s best case scenario. If they win both of their remaining games (tomorrow’s plus next week’s against Tulsa Roughnecks), they will guarantee themselves a first-place finish and the top seed in the West.

For Galaxy II, tomorrow is a chance for them to help themselves towards hosting a playoff game. They are in fourth right now, which would allow them to host a first-round game, but with favorable results they can finish even higher. In fact, in a testament to how close the Western Conference is, Los Dos are one of seven teams that can in some way finish with the top seed.

READ: 7 teams can finish #1, here is what each of them need to do.

Players to Watch

Ariel Lassiter — Lassiter has been good for Los Dos throughout the season, but he has been great through the last few weeks. The soon-to-be 22 year old has scored eight goals in 14 games this year, with three of those in his last three games. He is rounding into form at the right time for Los Dos and Republic will need to watch out for him tomorrow.

Danny Barrera — The Republic captain leads USL in assists for a reason; he has a hand in most of the team’s attacking moves and has proven himself to be a good chance generator. He will need to be in good form tomorrow if the Republic want to avoid getting shut out at home.

Cameron Iwasa — An overlooked detail from last week’s game was that Iwasa set a Republic record by starting his 25th consecutive USL match. Tomorrow is his chance to get number 26. Tomorrow is also a chance for him to set a new club record for most goals scored in a single season. He is only one goal away and tomorrow’s match is his second to last chance to find the back of the net in the regular season.

Octavio Guzman — Another detail that slipped under the radar from last week is that Octavio Guzman made his 67th career USL appearance in Old Glory Red, the most of any Republic player. If he makes an appearance tomorrow, he will tie Emrah Klimenta for the most appearances in all competitions with 87.

Who will you be watching tomorrow? Do you think that Republic will clinch a top-two finish? Sound off in the comments below!