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The Great Nothing

There seems to be a void in the Republic’s offense — what can fill it?

Joseph de Ocampo/Indomitable City Soccer

Sacramento Republic FC have scored at least one goal in each of the first five games of the season, nine in total. They are 3-1-1 and sit in third place with 10 points and a game in hand on first place Tulsa. That’s great. But watching these first few matches and taking a look at some underlying statistics reveals an issue at the core of the Republic’s play.

Sacramento Republic shots vs Austin bold April 6, 2019

Last Saturday’s match against Austin Bold illustrates the problem. Five shots total over the course of 90 minutes at home is not a adequate. At least they were all on target? Last week’s match against Tacoma Defiance saw 14 shots, but only three were on target, and uhhhh, one was penalty kick.

Republic shots on target vs Tacoma April 1, 2019

Looking back a few games we see more of the same against Colorado Switchbacks, for shots on goal including a penalty kick.

Republic shots on goal vs Colorado Switchbacks, March 16, 2019

The data reveals what the eye can see just as well, in that the Republic’s offense is missing a spark. To be honest, games have been dull. Possession is kept between center-backs. Attacks often start with long searching passes to isolated players in 1v2 situations out on the wings. Crosses often seem hopeful at best. There is no fluid passing between players, or creation of overloads to open up space.

Perhaps most importantly, play through the middle of the park is almost non-existent. While the game against Austin really showed this flaw, the 4-1 win over Oklahoma City FC also revealed large voids in the attacking third of the pitch.

Republic heat map vs Tulsa Roughnecks
Republic heat map vs Austin Bold

The Republic have several players who could bring much needed creativity to this area of the pitch. While central midfielder Jaime Villereal played behind Iwasa for a stint on Saturday, his skills are more useful deeper.

It is winger Villyan Bijev who should be slotted behind Iwasa to open up space and link up play in the middle of the pitch. Bijev is often played out wide, where his aerial ability makes him an excellent target for searching passes from the center-backs. His skill allows him to take on defenders and drive towards the box.

However, he is often isolated, and is not exceedingly quick. This leads him to burning out by the 65th minute most games. By playing him behind the striker, he won’t need to cover as much ground. He will find himself between the midfield and defense to conceive dangerous passes, and be in position to take more of his powerful strikes from good positions at the top of the 18.

This move would also allow the Republic to play with a pair of pacy, clever attackers in a wide areas. Pick two of Werner, Aleman or Blackwood. Not bad choices huh?

I think a small change in position could be a huge a boost for the Republic’s attack. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.