It will be three weeks since their last USL match when Sacramento Republic FC (9-7-3) return to the pitch on Saturday, August 1 against Western Conference leaders Seattle Sounders 2 (11-6-3) at 8:00 p.m. at Bonney Field.
Despite the league play hiatus, Republic FC are diligently focusing on capturing as many points as possible in the final third of the season to position themselves for a successful playoff run.
Head Coach Paul Buckle has used the time, along with international friendlies, as a means to refocus Republic FC, particularly the club’s offensive efficiency.
“It’s been all about keeping the tempo [of the match] high and quick,” said Buckle as he discussed the team’s priorities and key focuses during their break from USL play. “We want to be at maximum speed.”
For Buckle, Republic FC’s friendlies against English Premier League’s Sunderland AFC on July 14 and then Newcastle United on July 18 provided Republic FC key tests to evaluate their performance on the pitch.
Against EPL teams this year Republic FC went 1-1, defeating Sunderland AFC 1-0 and then narrowly losing to Newcastle United 1-0 from an own goal. The matches were the first with Buckle at the helm of Republic FC, allowing both the team and coach to begin to learn from one another.
“Performing well against the Premiership is always good to see, especially when we did so well with creating chances. We need to take those levels [of attack] into league play,” said Buckle. “It really showed we have an honest and hungry bunch of players.”
Since Buckle took over the helm, Republic FC training sessions have been increasingly more focused on their attack, particularly in terms of improving the number of shots on goal and the number of goals scored. As a result, the team has been extending practices to run drills that focus on refining set pieces, pushing numbers into the box and finishing goals.
“We’re being more attack-minded,” said midfielder Octavio Guzman. “We’re working on finishing through smaller, attacking drills.”
On the defensive, Buckle is also looking to fine-tune Republic FC’s defense. While Republic FC is averaging just 1.26 goals per match, the club is focusing on shutting down their opponents’ offensive while also making plays that lead to fewer defensive mistakes.
“We’re moving the ball quickly to hurt teams,” said Buckle. “On the defensive side, we’re working to make sure that we attack safe and with balance.”
Republic FC will play their first USL match with Buckle as head coach and their first league match since July 11 this Saturday. The club will play Seattle Sounders 2 on Saturday, August 1 at Bonney Field at 8:00 p.m.
Tickets to the match are on sale at Ticketmaster.com. The match will be broadcast live on CW31 and online at SacRepublicFC.com/matchday. Updates of the match will be provided via Twitter @SacRepublicFC or using #SACvSEA.