The Orange County Blues close out the 2015 USL regular season on Wednesday with a visit from defending champions Sacramento Republic FC. It won't be an easy game, by any means, but despite Sacramento's fearsome reputation, they've had some real ups and downs this season. In order to get us caught up on what's going on up north, we welcome back Joshua Beeman, now of Sac Republic blog Indomitable City Soccer. Thanks to Josh for taking the time to answer my questions!
The Goat Parade asks Indomitable City Soccer:
1. Of note to at least some readers of this site, Preki resigned as Sacramento Republic head coach midseason and he's apparently fallen off the face of the earth or something. But how's it going with the new manager, Paul Buckle? Has there been any kind of adjustment in style of play or demeanor in relation to the team?
Although the early going under Paul Buckle was a little frustrating, with disappointing results against Colorado Springs Switchbacks and Real Monarchs, his time in charge has been positive overall. The team is on a 5 match unbeaten streak and is playing some of their best soccer of the season. The most pronounced changes to the team since Buckle took over have been an experiment with the 4-3-3, now abandoned in favor of the more familiar 4-4-2, and an improvement in the team's crossing.
2. Like Orange County, Sacramento appears to have followed the same general trajectory this season: Start strong, fade badly in the middle of the season, and finish strong. Is SRFC playing their best soccer now, or are there some vulnerabilities creeping up with the playoffs nearly here?
The Republic are definitely playing their best soccer of the season right now and they do not show any signs of dropping off. The team's switch back to the 4-4-2 really seems to have brought out the best in the players at just the right time. Justin Braun, the team's captain and one of their key players, is having one of his best runs of form since joining the team, with 4 goals in 2 games. Rodrigo Lopez seems to be snapping out of his midseason slump as well, which Sacramento fans are sure to be happy with.
3. Does Rodrigo Lopez remain the team's MVP, or are there other candidates to compete for the spot now?
When Rodrigo Lopez is playing at his best, he is without a doubt the Republic's MVP. However, he was in a slump for much of the middle of the season and is only just starting to come back into form. During that slump came midseason acquisition Danny Barrera, who has impressed with his vision and creative passing. Although he has not yet put up the type of numbers that Roro has in the past, Barrera has shown that he can be MVP material.
4. (Bonus) Prediction for Wednesday's game?
Both the Blues and the Republic are teams playing some of their best soccer of the year right now. While I think it will be an entertaining match to watch, I think the teams will end up sharing points at the end of the day.
You can find my answers to Josh's questions on Indomitable City Soccer.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!