With the season underway and a new manager in place, I thought I’d dust off the Extra Time series early! If you followed along last season, my goal with this series was to bring a unique and up close view into all things Sacramento Republic FC from the manager himself. Sometimes it hit the mark, and other times it didn’t, but it was fun to try something new to build on Indomitable City Soccer’s coverage of the Republic.
I had a chance to sit down with Republic manager Simon Elliott for the first time on President’s Day after the club’s morning training session. We covered quite a bit of ground – from the whirlwind of the last two weeks, his time coaching in the academy – to what style of play fans can expect to see.
Without further ado, here is my conversation with Simon Elliott.
Walk me through the last few weeks. I imagine it’s been a bit of a whirlwind?
Yeah, it’s been busy, but we’ve been at the club for a while now, so it’s busy in the academy too. It’s been a different type of busy, but it is football and there’s always something to do and always something to prepare for. We’re sort of used to the rhythms of the club, so that’s helped with the transition.
You are now the third manager of the Sacramento Republic. Obviously, a club that has had a lot of success and you’ve been part of that. Is there pressure stepping into the job given the success, or do you see it more as of any opportunity…like a natural progression of your coaching career?
I think anytime you [take on a new opportunity] there is high expectations. This is part of professional football. There’s always pressure. I just want to make sure we’re preparing the team as best as we can.
How do you think coaching the U15/U16s and U17s prepared you for this new opportunity?
I think it terms of the progression, knowing the organization and season planning [has helped]. Being out there coaching, being part of the academy since it started [helps]. It’s been two [training] sessions, four times a week, eight sessions (in total), so whatever it is…maybe 800 to 1,000 sessions over the last two to three years. So it helps with reps, helps with your familiarity, how to integrate players, deal with injuries and all that stuff, so it’s been useful in that sense.
Benjamin Zimmer is one of our assistant coaches and has a breadth and depth of knowledge that’s vast. Tiny [Antonio Sutton] and Simon [Sheppard] have been here (Republic’s other assistant coaches) so they know how it works at the first team level, so I think all those pieces will inform what we want to do moving forward.
What can fans expect from your side in terms of style of play?
We want to be aggressive with what we do. We want to try to keep the ball. We want to make sure that we’re defending together. But at the same time, we’re playing against smart and intelligent teams, and good coaching, so we’ll have to be a little bit situational. We obviously have some things that we want to do, but we’re aware that it may change from week to week depending on who we’re playing.
I know it’s early, but do you see any standouts on this revamped roster?
I think we’re still working through it. But there’s been a few guys that have been here that have been good in terms of helping set the standard. The new guys that have come in have done a very good job of buying into what we’re trying to do. I think the group has gotten better since we started the season, which is good, and they should be right…it should be expected.
But in terms of individuals, it’s a little early to say that this player or that player is doing exceptional.
Anything standout following the Sounders match?
I think we need to start better next time. I believe the first 20 minutes we were a little bit slow. [We picked it up] and created some chances. We need to clean some things up. That’s probably the biggest takeaway.
Looking ahead to Sunday’s match against LAFC, what are you looking to get out of it?
We want to give some guys a chance to play longer. [Again], I think we want to start better, clean some things up and have a higher standard than last time out. We want to take another step towards the first game of the season. It’s great to play these teams early on. [Whether] it’s Seattle, LAFC or FC Cincinnati, these are the games where you find out who you are.
Indomitable City Soccer would like to thank Coach Elliott for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk with us. Be sure to follow the Extra Time with Elliott series all season long. You can follow ICS editor and contributor William Hodges on Twitter at william_hodges.