Sacramento Republic FC (13-12-6) travel to Oklahoma Saturday night to face off against Tulsa Roughnecks FC (7-14-10). The Quails are coming off a 2-2 draw at home against LA Galaxy II Wednesday night where defender Matt Mahoney headed in the equalizer in the 89th minute to secure a point. It was not necessarily the result the Republic wanted, but a loss would have been detrimental to the club’s hopes of securing a top four playoff seed.
These two teams last played on June 22 where the Republic cruised to a 6-0 victory. A win Saturday would put the Republic firmly in fourth place in the table with Austin Bold and Real Monarchs SLC both idle this weekend. I loathe saying this is a “must win”, but with only three games left coupled with an opponent who has struggled defensively all season, this is a “must win” if there ever was one.
Below are my three keys to the match:
- Fast start: Over the last couple of matches, the Republic have been able to secure an early goal. While they haven’t been able to hold on to their lead, it has been encouraging to see this in a season where they haven’t always come out on the front foot. I think getting an early goal Saturday is critical because the Roughnecks FC are playing better of late (3-1-2 over last six), and while they are out of playoff contention, they have nothing lose and would like nothing more than to play spoiler. An early goal from the Republic might help take the wind out of their sail.
- Lineup change: Given this is the third match in a week, I would expect some changes to the lineup from Republic Manager Simon Elliott. Even without the run of games this week, guys like Villyan Bijev, Sam Werner and Hayden Partain all deserve a start in my opinion. Werner’s fall out of the starting XI has been the most puzzling of the three, but I just think all of them are dynamic and bring a level of creativeness to the attack that is needed.
- Play a full 90: This has kind of been a theme all season right? There have been some really good stretches of play, and then some not-so-good moments where the energy is not there, nobody is making a run, or they concede a goal late. Look, nobody expects the boys in Old Glory Red to be perfect. That’s unrealistic. But the closer they can play a full 90 minutes will serve them well not just for this game, but for the remaining two matches (and as the head into the postseason play).
Match prediction: 3-1 Republic victory
What are your thoughts on today’s match? Let us know in the comments section below!