Sacramento Republic are gearing up to get back for a scheduled return to action on or around July 11, and it’s going to be different. The sprawling Western Conference schedule is gone, and now it will be trips to Reno and Cascadia and back for the most part the rest of the way.
Let’s break down a few of the notable pros and cons of the restart plan for Sac Republic:
Pro: There will be a return
If we use the logic that a return to action means it’s safe enough to do so — which I realize is already rather shaky based on what we’ve been seeing in rising coronavirus rates upon re-opening some facets of life from the coronavirus shutdown — then returning is a sign that we can move back to getting on with our lives, albeit under still-restricted circumstances. If you’re reading this, you probably miss Sac Republic! So coming back is nice.
Con: It feels dangerous?
There’s the argument that pro athletes are young, as healthy as anyone in society, and if they were to contract COVID-19, they would not get symptoms at all or bounce back quickly. Here’s hoping! The biggest risk on everything is twofold: An entire team has an outbreak at once, or a player gets seriously ill or worse. If either scenario happens, will it have been worth it? Are the rewards important enough to balance the gigantic risks? I think this is very much an open question.
Pro: Group is favorable (on paper)
We’re still waiting for the rest of SRFC’s schedule, but their group opponents of Tacoma Defiance, Portland Timbers 2 and Reno 1868 FC seems like a good one from a Sacramento perspective. Yes, there will be four games against rivals Reno, but Sacramento have nothing to fear against them, frankly. And getting two MLS2 teams in a group is a pretty nice break. All told, 12 games against those three opponents doesn’t sound bad at all, certainly from the vantage of being on paper.
Con: Likely feast or famine with so many games against same opponents
We know in soccer each game is different and usually teams play each other at most twice in a short span, but there is a chance that one (or more) of the three group opponents turns out to be a bad matchup for Republic FC. If that’s the case, the high hopes of going to the playoffs and competing for the title will sink quickly if losses start to pile up. Again, this is new territory, since teams don’t usually play the same opponents four times in just a few months, so at the very least it will be an interesting test sample for these conditions.
Pro: Republic’s roster is deep
One thing the front office did in the offseason was maintain a good core group and build on top of it. The result is that the roster is unusually deep for a USL Championship side, and coming into the normal season, Mark Briggs said his plan was to use pretty much every player throughout the campaign. Given that was the original plan, the ability to use different looks game to game could provide a useful element of surprise when playing the same opponent repeatedly, and give players a chance to rest after being out of action a very long time.
Con: Republic’s roster is short
If the group assembled is deep, the flipside is this is not a very big roster. There’s 23 players listed on the club website now, including three academy signings. That means everyone, or nearly everyone, needs to stay healthy, because a few big injuries would potentially change the face of the squad and lead to some real headaches for Briggs.
Can you think of additional pros and cons? Let’s hear them in the comments below.