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Quails come home to roost, add to covey

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Republic make off-season moves to solidify the side.

Alex Leguizamo

In the last few weeks Sacramento Republic exercised contract options on several players and signed some new(ish?) additions. With Graham Smith now out of the picture, Paul Buckle seems to have complete control over player acquisition. Let’s see how he is shaping the squad so far:

Returning Players

Republic has exercised options on 5 players:

Danny Barrera

Republic’s captain for the last 2 seasons, Barrera is a midfielder capable of controlling a game with his excellent passing range. He is also adept at free kicks, and offers a dangerous option when popping up in the box after late runs from deep. Barrera was often found in a free role from the left or right midfield positions, but in my opinion he could really thrive in a deeper play-making role. It is great to have his skill and leadership back.

Luis Espino

Brought into the team late last season, the young talent was found through Republic’s connections in Mexico. He is a creative central midfielder who scored a goal in his debut. We didn’t get to see too much of him, as he signed in mid-September, but he appeared to offer skillful short range passing and great movement in the final third.

Elliott Hord

Found repairing derelict tractors in an abandoned almond orchard on the outskirts of Fresno, Hord is a this author’s favorite addition to the squad over the past few seasons. Brought in to replace the irreplaceable Emrah Klimenta, Hord not only deputized, but took charge in the right back role and made himself a must-start every game. His defensive skills are matched by offering a threat going forward with hard-charging runs and a stunning ability to cross the ball.

Wilson Kneeshaw

Certainly a fan favorite, the Arden Archer was on quite a run at the beginning of last season. Sadly, things went a bit south as constant shuffling of the squad, and then an injury late in the season, limited his time on the field. The striker has several skills in his quiver; clever finishing, pace, intelligent runs, situational awareness, good link-up play, and more strength than his slender build would suggest. Exciting to have him in the squad again.

Carlos Rodriguez

C-Rod became a quail last season after being found at the CESIFUT academy in Mexico. The 20-year-old central defender impressed me immediately with his aggressiveness, tackling ability, and great skill in the air. Considering he can’t really communicate with his teammates and his young age, his performances have been even more impressive. Unfortunately, like many on our squad, Rodriguez was hampered by injury for much of last season. I am looking forward to seeing how he has developed in the off-season.

New/Re-signings

Cameron Iwasa

The Sacramento native returns to the roost after a year at Swope Park Rangers. Cam is a powerful striker who uses his speed and tenacity to break through opposition defenses. I think he will make an excellent partner for Kneeshaw in a two-striker system, as both have an incredible ability to stretch backlines and make smart runs. Cam needs good service from his midfielders though; when he gets it he is fantastic at receiving through passes at his feet, and taking off.

Hayden Partain

Partain came into the squad midway through last season. He is a box-to-box type who could conceivably play anywhere in the midfield. While I was not enamored with his brief performances, he is a good, energetic utility player. Adding some depth in the center of the park and in defense will help sort out what was an unbalanced, forward-heavy team last season.

Jaime Villarreal

Villarreal is a 22-year-old midfielder who hails from some team down south I don't know who they are and who cares. What matters is he has walked forth from the shadows into the beautiful NorCal light. Some readers may remember Villarreal from his times terrorizing Republic’s defense with great passing and smart runs into the box from midfield positions. He’s a tenacious player with a skill set much like that of Barrera; clever passing, accurate shot, good at the dark arts of fouling/drawing fouls. Glad he is playing for us and not against us.

Republic are shaping up to have a solid core of players. I should mention that Jeremy Hall (praise be upon our lord and savior of the midfield, amen) is under contract for next season as well, so the center of the pitch should be a source of strength for Sacramento. The club website also names Roberto Hategan, Trevin Caesar, and Adam Moffat in its 2018 roster.

Now if only we had a goalkeeper...

What do you think of the players we have so far? Anyone else you would like to see return? Let us know in the comments below!