Why Sacramento Republic FC will lose the USL Pro League Championship
By Richard Bauer
It’s a possibility. Sacramento Republic FC has a great route to the title, It’s the second seed team and has a possibility of two home playoff games. They have had great form over the final ten games of the regular season. They had a great home record and set a USL Pro league record for wins in a debut season with seventeen. But, is that enough? I already wrote about why this franchise would win the title. Now, for the other side of that coin.
Two reasons stand out to me for the possible downfall of the Sacramento Republic FC playoff run: dealth and discipline. Injuries have plagued this squad from the start of the season. Veteran forward Justin Braun has struggled with leg injuries. Leading goal scorer Thomas Stewart had hamstring issues late in the year. Unfortunately, the loan cupboard is currently bare. Tommy Thompson, Adam Jahn and Alvas Powell have all moved back to their senior MLS clubs. Sometimes, timing is everything and its bad timing in the roster depth sense.
Having watched this squad develop from the beginning of the year has given me insight into one weakness I believe is always in play for Sac Republic FC- the discipline of the squad. Early in the year, fouls and yellow cards caused issues with the team’s development. It led to an inconsistent roster thanks to card suspensions. That same lack of discipline could be seen in the amount of turnovers the squad committed in the midfield early in the year. This turnovers led to many of the lunging and reaching fouls that earned the suspension causing cards. It was at the heart of early season losses. The two main culprits to this phenomenon were Nemanja Vukovic and Ivan Mirkovic. They play essential defensive roles for the team and it is very clear what is missing when either of them is not in the lineup. They clearly improved over the year as they are committing less turnovers and earning fewer cards. They led the backline and kept the form and spine of the squad together. But, this is the playoffs. One slip. One lapse in judgment. In a single elimination scenario, errors are season ending. If I were a betting man, Vukovic and Mirkovic are the two to watch when it comes to how disciplined Sac Republic FC will be.
Sacramento Republic FC can compete with any team in the league. I’ve seen them live in person and via numerous web streams. They have all the tools to put together a three match winning streak. Will they? Unlikely. Why? First year teams generally don’t win championships. It’s just an opinion. I could be wrong. Less than twenty hours till we find out.