Part two of our Republic FC roster break down takes us to the club’s indomitable midfield.
The core of the midfield crew is highlighted by a handful of players with a winning pedigree, at both the collegiate and professional levels. This year’s group includes the return of Drew Skundrich and Sam Werner who lifted numerous NCAA titles together at Stanford, while a newly signed Harvard graduate has experienced the ultimate domestic glory of earning an MLS Cup.
It’s a solid foundation featuring a variety of attack-minded players with quickness and flair, to grinders with tireless motors willing to do the dirty work. The Republic FC midfield is already shaping up to be a deep and dangerous squad this season, so let’s take a look where it currently stands.
Skundrich and Jaime Villarreal anchored the heart of the midfield for the majority of last season (started 24 of the 37 USL matches together), logging well over a combined 5,000 minutes in league play. The midfield engines also combined for 64 interceptions, 107 tackles and 69 tackles won. In their 24 games alongside each other, the club posted a 11-8-5 record over 24 games and collected nine shutouts.
Villarreal, who lead the Indomitable Club in starts and minutes played in 2019, scored twice this past season with both ultimately proving to be game-winning goals. The former LA Galaxy product will be one of three Republic FC midfield players on the 2020 roster who will have Major League Soccer experience.
Newcomer Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu will likely join Villarreal and Skundrich by slotting into the central midfield with ease, as the former MLS Cup champion will add some depth and grit to the group.
The return of Sam Werner, Dariusz Formella and Villyan Bijev on the flanks will ensure plenty of excitement on the attacking front. The wingers combined for a total 10 goals and nine assists while creating a total of 97 scoring chances. Werner finished the USL regular season with 230 crosses, good enough for third in the entire USL.
The trio also accumulated five game-winning strikes last season across all competitions. Formella netted crucial back-to-back game-winners during Republic FC’s pivotal late-September playoff push.
Another potential attacking threat in the midfield is newly signed Kharlton Belmar. The 2015 USL Rookie of the Year will have the chance to showcase his versatility as a winger this season or an attacker up-front. Belmar, whose logged minutes in MLS, has been nominated numerous times for USL Goal of the Week and is still the all-time leading goal scorer for Sporting Kansas City II, recently rebranded from Swope Park Rangers.
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