The season approaches for Sacramento Republic FC, and it’s time to turn our attention to the defense ahead of the 2020 USL Championship season.
With a new coach and some new faces, it’s hard to make hard-and-fast projections, but let’s take a whack at how the depth chart may shake out coming into the new campaign in the back.
The experienced right back looks set to be the first option on that end of the defense. He’ll likely split time, but the Georgia native, at 26, is entering his prime and is likely to play a significant role on the field and as a leader.
This one is a tough call since Keinan (pictured, top) is 35 and is unlikely to be able to go week in and week out, but it still seems pretty likely in a first-choice lineup with everyone healthy and available, Keinan’s experience and leadership gives him the nod to be a starter. Still, I expect some kind of timeshare at center back. Which leads us to...
Matt Mahoney/Tomas Hilliard-Arce
If Keinan can’t go every week, I think there will be some rotation at center back, and it will likely be a “playoff” between Mahoney and Hilliard-Arce to potentially be the rock in the center of defense for the season. Both guys are 24, both have a decent amount of USL Championship experience, Hilliard-Arce may have a higher ceiling given his past MLS connections but Mahoney has more games under his belt. Either way, neither of these players may start every game, but they’re likely to see plenty of playing time with quite a few starts.
The Salvadoran slotted in with Shannon Gomez hurt last season and got some run at left back. This position is likely to be a competition, with Gomez, Barahona and Ashkanov Apollon all in the mix, so left back could ultimately be a toss-up depending on health and form.
The Trinidad & Tobago international could be a starter again in 2020, but his skill set on the flanks and versatility means if he doesn’t get a start he’ll likely be the first option in reserve at fullback.
The trialist-turned-rostered player has not played left back before, but Sacramento are on record projecting him to be an option there. He could get some run as a starter, but is probably as likely to be a flexible bench option more often than not.
The 17-year-old homegrown signing will likely be a reserve option in his first pro season. Last year, he was a bench option on an academy deal, and he’ll probably get a few minutes, but Sargis is one for the future and will likely keep his powder dry unless there’s a crisis at center back over the course of the season.
The newcomer is a midfielder by trade but the club has noted he can play right back in a pinch. Expect him to slot there as a late-game tactical change or if McCrary and Gomez can’t go, but the Harvard product will likely play higher up the field for the most part.
Don’t be surprised if Republic FC turn to a loanee or two, a new signing or some short-term academy contracts to bolster the ranks this season. What do you think of the depth chart? Do you think there’s a contending group here on the backline? Let’s chat in the comment section below!