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2020 Sacramento Republic player postmortem: Dekel Keinan

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Veteran defender played a key role, on and off the field.

David Calvert/Reno 1868 FC (Courtesy of Republic FC)

Dekel Keinan started the 2020 season at 35 years old, certainly not an impossible age to keep playing, but an age in which the ranks of players really thin out. He started the season opener for Sacramento Republic, indicating he could very well play a big role again this year for the club, and he also played the full 120 minutes in the club’s playoff game to wrap up the season.

In between, Keinan served more of a reserve and mentor role, with the emergence of Hayden Sargis and Tomas Hilliard-Arce as the typical center back pairing, the Israeli veteran getting some spot starts along the way.

Here are Keinan’s stats for 2020:

Dekel Keinan 2020 Statistics

2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
Regular Season 7 4 373 1 0 4 1 3 0
Playoffs 1 1 120 0 0 0 0 1 0
Total 8 5 493 1 0 4 1 4 0

I think in the end, Keinan delivered just about what you would want from him. He probably couldn’t physically handle playing every game, but having him as an option to put in a good shift in the back is always helpful. He offered guile, size and knowhow that younger players didn’t possess, and he essentially is the dictionary definition of “rugged centerback.”

And he scored a goal, the equalizer in a 1-1 draw against Reno 1868 in late September.

Sac Republic lost just one game Keinan played in, but that’s a tad misleading, since the club lost just three games total all season. Still, he was a value add in being played judiciously, which is kind of the ideal for a team that has several starting-caliber central defenders, and they did. The emergence of Sargis helped Keinan not rack up too many minutes, and they almost beat Phoenix Rising on the road in the playoffs, in a truly outstanding defensive performance.

Keinan appears to be out of contract, but notably he was one of the players who was not specifically mentioned in the team’s roster moves announcement. Is he considering another season here? Is he thinking about hanging it up as he’s now 36?

We’ll see what happens, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he moves into a player/coach role, either with Republic FC or elsewhere. He’s someone who was counted on to mentor younger players and is highly regarded, and if he wants to become a coach, he seems like he could find a role relatively easy.

So I think Keinan’s impact can be judged in part on the field, yes, but he’s also got a lot to offer off the field, something we didn’t get to see but was referenced regularly during the season. If this was it for his playing days, at least with Sac Republic, he can certainly hold his head high. And if it wasn’t, you wouldn’t necessarily count him out of making a positive contribution in whatever minutes he gets, either.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.