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Sacramento Republic Needs to Convert

SRFC leads the USL in shot attempts, why can’t they score?

MLS: U.S. Open Cup-Real Salt Lake at Sacramento Republic Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

A little past halfway through the USL season, Sacramento Republic FC has one of the best attacks and offensive strategies in the league. Coach Paul Buckle has constructed what could be the most talented offense in Sacramento Republic’s young history. Although we may not replicate the miraculous run of 2014, it’s nice knowing that SRFC has the firepower to intimidate any team in the USL. Statistically, Sacramento Republic has been one of the more threatening offenses in the league.

Ranked at second place in pass attempts, you may expect a lot of mistakes and mistimed passes. However, the team has excelled at timed passes within their own side of the field and deep to the outside of enemy territory. Due to the team’s developed habits of making the easy passes, they are currently ranked 2nd in pass accuracy at 81%.

These stats, however, do not tell the entire story. Any team has the ability to pass between the goalie and CB’s for an entire game, but SRFC has been aggressive and accurate at the same time. Their precise passing has allowed the midfielders and forwards to pelt opposing teams’ nets, making them the number one ranked team in shots attempted. There’s only one problem.

Despite the great efforts displayed during the team’s attacks, SRFC currently ranks 22nd in conversion rate at 13% whereas the most efficient teams are at 21%. Whether it be a shot too wide or a great save by the opposing teams’ goalies, SRFC can’t seem to find a way to take advantage of their chances. Although the team has been scoring at a higher rate over the last 4 games, it’s still concerning that the team is still ranked that poorly. It also doesn’t help that Danny Barrera, tied team leader in assists, will be out with an injury for at least the next 12 weeks.

As mentioned above, SRFC has been scoring a lot more recently, with 12 goals over the last 4 USL league games. However, when playing against teams like LA Galaxy (MLS) in the U.S. Open Cup game and San Antonio FC (most recent league game), SRFC failed to take advantage of the opportunities given to them.

Against LA Galaxy, Sac Republic took 15 shots, 5 of them being within the box and a net just begging to be smacked with the ball. However, as usual, the ball was kicked over the net or just to the outside, leaving the team with 0 goals. Although LA Galaxy was a better team and deserved to win the game (2-0), there were opportunities SRFC had throughout the match that they absolutely could have capitalized on.

The San Antonio game was even more frustrating and thankfully it was the last game before the 2 week long break before the Republic’s next match. The final score was a 1-1 tie, which would lead people who didn’t watch the game to believe the game was either close or even. This was, to me, the most frustrating game of the season.

Sacramento Republic dominated the entire game from start to finish. The team led the game in every singe statistical category. The most eye opening stat was, the team attempted 14 shots WITHIN the box and only 4 of them were on target. Those numbers are inexcusable and need to be addressed right away. Thankfully, Paul Buckle is an intelligent enough coach and manager to know this is a problem and has clearly tried to find a way to give his players more opportunities to score.

We can take comfort in knowing that after SRFC went six games without scoring a goal, they have scored 17 of their total 21 season goals. The recent emergence of Trevin Caesar has also added a dynamic to the offense that hasn’t been seen in the team’s young history. His speed and quickness adds so much pressure to opposing teams they have no choice but to give extra attention to the team’s goal leader. This has allowed for easier passes to the outside resulting in crosses and deflections.

Let’s hope that Sacramento Republic shows the last 4 USL league games played weren’t an offensive fluke and have a showing out party this Saturday against CF Pachuca. Fortunately they’ll be in a friendly game after a long break to get some of the physical and mental rust out of their system.