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Republic’s midfield looks thin going into playoff push

With Barrera injured and Trickett-Smith released, the center of the pitch may be a spot of trouble for the Quails.

Joseph de Ocampo

While it has yet to be officially confirmed, it appears Daniel Trickett-Smith (DTS), the young midfielder from Liverpool, has been released from Sacramento Republic. DTS put in 2 goals and an assist in 13 games played this season for the Republic. He seemed a talented attacking midfielder with good footwork, vision, passing range, and a pretty sharp volley we saw hit the back of the net a few times. However, DTS earned very little starting time in a constantly shifting Republic starting XI and formation. In my opinion, he impressed when on the field, especially considering how much a player in his mold would benefit from regular playing time in a regular system. It’s hard to distribute dangerous passes to teammates when no one is sure where anyone else will be.

Obviously Coach Buckle does not share my positive impressions. I do find it somewhat unfair to ask a 21-year-old with limited first team time to come in and immediately control a game in the same style as the veteran Danny Barrera. And again, with a constantly shifting formation and set of tactics, any midfielder will have trouble making an immediate impact on the pitch.

It seems like Buckle is once again setting the team up to essentially bypass the midfield for direct passes up to the (four!) forwards. This is not my fist time noting that I think this is a mistake. This group of talented, intelligent players should be focusing on passing the ball on the ground through midfield, utilizing width to open up the center of the park. This is style is unlikely to return, however.

Sixteen-year-old academy signing Roberto Hategan may find himself in a pivotal role with the first team quickly.

Buckle mentioned this in his interview with our own William Hodges the other day: “Hategan has been a positive and is Barrera-like, but certainly we need to add a player to the squad or someone within our team to come up big for us the way Danny has...but it’s a big ask.”

So it is possible that a new player will join Republic soon to slot into the midfield. Alternatively, the coach also said “I won’t add unless they [fit] with what we have. I would rather go with young Hategan or give someone else an opportunity to show us what they’re capable of.”

Perhaps someone else currently on the roster will step up into that wide left spot? I would not mind seeing Harry Williams in that position. While certainly not a central midfielder or deep-lying playmaker type, he could offer pace, dribbling skill, and a goal scoring threat from a permanently wide location rather than exactly matching Barrera’s free, often narrow, role.

What do you think? Should Republic search for a new midfielder? Or is there someone on the current squad you would like to see step up into that role? Let us know in the comments below.