Last weekend, Sacramento Republic FC played their final home game of the USL Regular Season. This weekend, their regular season to an end when they face the struggling Tulsa Roughnecks FC at ONEOK Field.
Although the playoff fates of each club are already decided, tomorrow’s match means a lot to both teams. For the playoff-bound Republic it is a chance to improve their seeding and gain an advantage over future postseason opponents. For bottom-ranked Tulsa, it is a chance to end a terrible season on a high note and walk out of their final home game with some dignity.
Last Time Out
Thanks to the USL’s unbalanced scheduling, tomorrow’s game is the first time this season that Republic and Tulsa are facing one another.
If the fact that Republic will only play the bottom team in the league once, while other top teams like Rio Grande Valley and Swope Park Rangers have played them three and four times respectively seems a bit unfair to you, you are not alone.
However, the two teams did play each other twice in 2016, so there is a bit of history. The Republic won both games by a 3-1 scoreline, once in Sacramento and once in Tulsa.
Setting The Table
It would be hard to find two teams in the Western Conference that have had as different of seasons as Sacramento Republic and Tulsa Roughnecks. While the Republic has had rough patches (looking at you, April and July), the season has been a success overall and the team is poised for a top-three finish. The Roughnecks, on the other hand, have had a terrible season and are on track to finish with the worst record in the entire league.
Going into tomorrow, the last game of the season, Tulsa has a record of 5 wins, 20 losses, and 4 draws in 29 games. They’ve earned 19 points, a full 30 fewer than Republic’s 49. They have a goal differential of -35 and have conceded a little over two goals per game.
Playoff Seeding On The Line
If the Republic take all three points from tomorrow’s game, they will be guaranteed a second place finish in the Western Conference, meaning that a potential second round playoff game would be played at Bonney Field.
Second place is not the highest that Republic can go, however. They can finish in first if they beat Tulsa and Colorado Springs Swtichbacks lose to the Orange County Blues.
Players to Watch
Sammy Ochoa - Tulsa’s most dangerous player, Ochoa has scored 11 goals and recorded 6 assists, all while playing on the least offensively successful team in the league.
Cristian Mata - Another dangerous player for Tulsa, Mata has 4 goals and 2 assists on the season.
Cameron Iwasa - Iwasa has had a great season in 2016 and breaking the Republic’s single-season goalscoring record would top it off nicely. If it is going to happen at all, it has to happen against Tulsa. Keep your eye on Cam and hope he gets one tomorrow.
Wilson Kneeshaw - He may not be used often, but when Kneeshaw has been subbed on he has been very effective. Keep an eye out if he’s on the field, because his speed and composure in one-on-one situations could punish a weak Tulsa defense.
Jeremy Hall - We recently published a story about how Hall has taken the Republic from good to great. What better time to see that for yourself than the final regular season game?
What do you think will happen in tomorrow’s game? Will Republic finish the regular season off with a win? Will Iwasa get his goal and set a new record? Sound off in the comments below.