After back-to-back draws, Sacramento Republic FC are focusing on taking better advantage of the offensive opportunities they are given in matches. With playoffs looming and Republic FC sitting just one point out of a playoff position, patience on the pitch and scoring more goals per match is crucial for Republic FC in their five remaining regular season matches.
“It’s a real learning lesson for us,” said Head Coach and Technical Director Paul Buckle following Republic FC’s 1-1 draw against Real Monarchs SLC on Saturday, August 22. “Teams when they’re a goal up or even drawn up, they just kill the game for us … We had the opportunity (against Real Monarchs) and we didn’t take it.”
With a current record of 10-8-5 and five remaining matches, Republic FC already has one more draw and loss than their overall record in 2014 (17-7-4), but is in a place to comfortably qualify for playoffs. While Republic FC is currently in 7th place in the Western Conference with 35 points, they can still earn a maximum of 50 points, which should they earn all their points, would lock in a playoff spot.
However, regardless of USL standings and playoff possibilities, the key focus for Republic FC in training will be taking better advantage of opportunities to score in addition to being more patient on the pitch. Despite usually controlling the pace of matches and scoring first in the their past two matches, Republic FC have often found themselves only salvaging a draw.
“We just need to learn to make the match last,” said Buckle. “We’ve got to find goals from the front line and find goals from the midfield…that’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to show our fighting spirit.”
Key parts of training for Republic FC will be focusing on holding out against their opponents patience and game management, noted Buckle after Saturday’s match.
“You have to manage the game for 90 minutes,” said Buckle, who noted he was impressed that the team looked more patient and confidant on the ball on Saturday, than previous matches. “We’ve got a few days ahead of us and it’s important now that we dig in and mustn’t be too hard on ourselves.”
Set pieces are one area Republic FC hope to address and turn into more effective opportunities on the attack. Of Republic FC’s 35 USL goals, only six of them have come directly from set pieces.
Republic FC is third overall in the USL with 128 corner kicks, and second in the Western Conference behind Tulsa Roughnecks FC’s 138. Despite dominating their opponents 128 to 73 on corners, and averaging 5.57 corners per match, Republic FC have yet to score a single goal off a corner kick this season.
Republic FC also hopes to improve on taking better advantage on free kicks and penalties. This season, Republic FC has only drawn three penalties, converting two of them. In comparison, the league leader in penalties, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC have scored eight out of eight penalties.
Additionally, Republic FC has scored just four goals from direct or indirect free kicks, a number the team will be working on improving.
“We just need to be a little more patient, move the ball from the inside out, get out wide, put balls in the box, get runners in the box, said Republic FC captain Justin Braun. “That’s how the goals are going to come.”