As summer draws to a close this weekend, the realization that the 2019 Republic FC season is quickly winding down is settling in. It seems like just yesterday that the season kicked off, and despite what has been an up-and-down season, the Republic head into September with the playoffs and a possible top four finish in the table still very much in sight.
But it’s going to take some work. At 10-10-4 (34 points), the Republic clearly need to play better and be more consistent, and go on a run over their final 10 matches if they plan to make the playoffs (and make some noise if/when they reach the postseason). Working in their favor, the schedule is relatively favorable down the stretch.
This includes home and away matches against LA Galaxy II, home versus Rio Grande Valley FC, Tacoma Defiance, and El Paso Locomotive FC, and on the road against Tulsa Roughnecks FC. What is the common denominator? All six of these clubs are currently on the outside looking in to the playoffs, with Tacoma, Rio Grande Valley and Tulsa firmly out of contention.
The remaining four matches are against playoff teams on the road including Austin Bold, OKC Energy FC and Real Monarchs SLC, and a home match against Orange County SC who is currently in 10th place — just inside the playoffs (10 teams qualify).
While the days of “gimmies” are long gone in USL Championship, the schedule is clearly in the Republic’s favor and they absolutely need to take advantage of it.
Another factor that should help the Quails down the stretch is they addressed their biggest need a few weeks ago in acquiring forward Thomas Enevoldsen from Indy Eleven. Enevoldsen dazzled in his first match with the Republic securing a brace and he was involved in setting up another goal.
Additionally, with Josh Cohen’s mid-season departure to Maccabi Haifa FC, General Manager Todd Dunivant acquired goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth on loan from Minnesota United. Solid goalkeeping down the stretch will paramount.
Will it be enough? We will soon find out. It starts tomorrow night on the road at LA Galaxy II in a match that they absolutely have to come away with three points. A point or dropping points on the road could signal that maybe they are not quite ready to make a push. In fairness, maybe not either. But at some point, you feel like they have to string together a solid stretch of games if they want to make a run in October.
The good news is historically the Republic have been as good as it gets in September and down the stretch. For the Sacramento faithful, the hope is that trend continues.