Sacramento Republic FC (6-2-3) head back out on the road Tuesday against first place Real Monarchs SLC (8-2-1) at Real Tinto Stadium. The two sides last played in the opening round of the Western Conference playoffs last year, when eighth-seeded Republic FC upset the one seed Monarchs 3-1 in penalty kicks. Both teams are off to a fast start in 2018, separated by only four points in the Western Conference.
To get you ready for tomorrow, below are three keys to the match:
- By the time game time rolls around tomorrow, Republic FC will have had almost a week off. The club held full training sessions over the weekend, so they should be well-rested and ready to go. On the other side, Real Monarchs traveled to Portland on Saturday, only to have their four-match winning streak snapped on a late goal. The benefit of having no game over the weekend should benefit the Republic, although you got to believe the Monarchs will be looking to quickly bounce back.
- Real Monarchs are led by midfielders Maikel Chang (2 goals, 4 assists), Justin Portillo (four assists, 29 chances created) and defender Kalen Ryden (four goals). I haven’t watched much of the Monarchs this season, but similar to last season, they seem to come at teams with a balanced attack. They are fourth in the Western Conference in total goals (23), while on the other side of the ball, they’ve conceded the third fewest goals (10). Additionally, their keepers Jake Leeker and Connor Sparrow have combined for four clean sheets, which ranks the team fourth. Republic FC will have their hands full.
- Republic are coming off their last USL match with an impressive 3-1 road win over Phoenix Rising FC that was arguably their strongest performance of the season, and the closest they’ve played to 90 minutes all season. Can they can keep the momentum going? Villyan Bijev, Cameron Iwasa and Josh Cohen have all been at top form. Others have shown flashes. Clearly, given the side that their up against, Republic FC will have to play a clean match if they want to come away with any points, and someone else for the Quails will need to shine.
I know a win is always preferred, but I’d be just fine with a point on the road against a solid Real Monarchs side. Anything else would really be a bonus. My final score— 1-1.