Following last Saturday’s 0-2 loss at Fresno FC, Sacramento Republic FC ended the month of June with a 2-3-2 record in USL play. Not great, but not terrible either. However, if you take a closer look at the last six weeks or so, you need to go all the way back to May 19 to find the Republic’s last notable win — a 3-1 victory on the road at Phoenix.
Sure there was the 1-0 win at home over Orange County SC on June 2 and the 1-0 win at Fresno FC on June 13, but I don’t think anyone would classify either match as dominant by any stretch. The Orange County victory came on a penalty kick and they had to do everything to hold on (thank you Josh Cohen), and the Fresno match was a bit of a sloppy affair from both sides, excluding of course, the Luis Espino goal in the 37th minute to give the Republic three points.
In fairness, the three Republic losses in June (Real Monarchs SLC, San Antonio and Fresno), all came on the road against three quality sides. It’s worth noting that they lost 0-1 to Real Monarchs, 0-1 to San Antonio and 0-2 at Fresno. Of those three, I would say only the Fresno match from Saturday stood out as one where the club lacked cohesion. Either way, it hurts to come out of those three matches without a point.
The most painful match was clearly June 23 at home versus St. Louis, where the Republic inexplicably conceded two goals in the last 15 minutes of play. Even though the match ended in a 2-2 draw, it felt like a win for St. Louis and loss for the Quails. The other draw at home against Phoenix was to be expected.
So what’s going on? What are the reasons behind the Republic’s recent slide?
Well, after a fast start to the season, where the club was playing beyond everyone’s expectations, a drop in play was probably to be expected. Like any season, you’re going to have your highs and lows at various points, and Republic FC seem to be in lull at the moment.
Secondly, despite Manager Simon Elliott doing a solid job mixing up lineups to keep players fresh, the amount of games they’ve had to play recently, to include U.S. Open Cup play, has taken a toll on the club. It wasn’t that long ago that the Republic had to endure a stretch of eight games in three weeks, which is really insane. I know the club and players will never use the schedule as an excuse, but still...it has to be a contributing factor.
More than anything though, I feel that the club has lost a little bit of the creativity and cohesion that was there the first two months of the season. Additionally, while Cameron Iwasa, Villyan Bijev and Josh Cohen have been fantastic, there hasn’t been enough consistency of late from others (and as a whole), which has led to mixed results.
I know some have questioned Elliott’s tactics and substitutions of late as part of the issue. Look, he knows the strengths of his players and club better than anyone, so I am going leave that be for now. If anything, it’s only natural to wonder if he’s experiencing some growing pains, given it’s his first year as manager and the highest level he’s coached.
That aside, I think what is important to watch over the next month is how he manages playing time moving forward. Will he make some adjustments to look for more consistency? Also, with Open Cup play out of the way and games coming at a more reasonable pace, will that help attrition and ultimately improve play? Can he get the club to come with the same fire of play they had in the Open Cup? We’d surely all take that version of the Republic.
Either way, they obviously need to figure it out fast or they will find themselves falling behind in what is shaping up to be a difficult Western Conference.