Sacramento Republic FC opened up their Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup play Wednesday evening with a 3-1 victory over San Francisco City FC. Republic goals came from Keven Alemán, Villyan Bijev and Adam Moffat.
Here is what manager Simon Elliott had to say on the match, as well as his thoughts on the Open Cup, and his approach to managing minutes with the recent stretch of games.
What are your overall thoughts on the match?
I thought we were slow to get started. It’s a turnover game, but turnovers with no pressure, or simple pressure where we know where that pressure is coming from and we still turn it over...I think those are problems for us. It’s something we need to tidy up. It’s not necessarily just the ball carrier, but the spacing and the supporting players around providing right options.
After about 20 minutes, we got going and looked good....[but] then we turn it over, we don’t know who should be stepping out, and then we leave someone free at the top of the box. I thought the second half was better. The subs helped. I think we need to understand a little bit of the game management.
It was good to get some guys time that haven’t played for a little bit. Good for Roberto [Hategan] to play in a meaningful game and good to get guys 90 minutes. Overall, I am relatively happy.
You made a couple changes at half. What did you say to the guys to spur on that second half?
[Laughs]....Well, I am not sure I can tell you that, but you probably get the idea. High standards are important. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing in the park or at Papa Murphy’s Park in front of 11,000, or if you have to go to Toronto and play in front of 30,000, if you’re wearing the badge and you got the shirt, it’s high standards. It has to be. All the time. Because it’s not a light switch. You can’t turn it on or off whenever you want.
So I think we eventually got the message [across] and had enough quality to take care of the game, but they were smart. They played good. They got a couple of nice players that caused problems at times.
How important is a good run in Open Cup play for you and the fans?
It’s very important. Every game is important...it’s professional soccer. Every time you get out there it’s a tough game. In the USL, it’s tough games, good players, good coaching and this is no different. You see the quality of the players. This is a big game of them, and we have to rise to the challenge. There are no easy games. You have to have that mentality if you want to succeed at the highest level.
Is it safe to say you’d like another crack at Reno?
Yeah....but I am sure Reno would like another crack at us after that second half. It was a good game. I thought we were good in the first half, and they were better than us in the second half, so they got what they deserved.
We need to learn from it and be better...whether we play them in the Open Cup or in the league.
How are you managing minutes with so many games of late?
We’re in a fortunate position that we have everybody healthy now...knock on wood. So that means we have competition for places. Part of today was finding a way to get through the game and reintroducing guys like Elliott Hord and Josh Turnley that haven’t played for a while, and they both performed pretty well considering they’ve both been out.
Now they’re in the mix for a game against Phoenix. We have more guys to choose from, so that’s sort of how you manage minutes. We have the numbers at the moment to rotate and be fresh and competitive for every game.