Sacramento Republic FC are about to learn if their unexpected break was a blessing in disguise or not.
The team has been off for nearly two weeks, after last weekend’s game at Oakland Roots was postponed due to poor field conditions. Mired in a slump prior to that, the team has been training hard in the meantime, but now they get another big test to see if they can get back in gear, Saturday when they host Phoenix Rising FC.
“Training was good,” midfielder Fatai Alashe told reporters on Friday. “I think the guys are excited, ready to go. Obviously this is a big game for us, we haven’t been in the best form. So we’re looking forward to kind of trying to right the ship a little bit. We’ve been working hard, trying to work on the ideas that we have, how we want to play, so hopefully we’ll be able to show it.”
Phoenix, of course, remains the top contender in the Pacific Division, even if they are coming off a loss themselves, but Sacramento hope they have learned what they need to from the teams’ last meeting, with Phoenix emerging 1-0 winners on May 29.
“We’ve prepared them for what we think [Phoenix] will do,” said head coach Mark Briggs. “They’ve slightly changed things the last time they came here and they adapted their tactics, which they don’t usually do...We’ve prepared for each scenario [Phoenix has played lately] and we’ve got to go out and we’ve got to execute.”
The potential blessing in disguise for Sac Republic could come not only from trying to refine what’s been ailing the team, but also in getting some much-needed rest in a stop-start season so far.
But Alashe admitted the team could use a result to help raise spirits.
“I think a result would help that a little bit [to feel refreshed]. Just the overall feeling in the group, I think guys were tired, obviously every time you have a stretch like that, it’s going to be difficult. We don’t have the biggest roster so it’s kind of hard when you have a couple guys injured, a couple guys on international duty, it gets difficult when you have so many games in a short time. I think having the break helped us a lot, like I said, guys feel fresh and looking forward to playing again,” said Alashe.
Attacker Kharlton Belmar noted the team still believes they can get out of their rut and come good, but they know they have to actually do it.
“I think we’re all feeling pretty good,” he said. “I think we’re all aware of what we need to do and what’s at stake, three points. And that’s what we’re really after...It’s been a tough couple weeks but we’re ready to put it right and get back on track.”
Briggs had a simple message to find success on Saturday: “We have to perform.”
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