It’s kind of rare for the New York Red Bulls to face a USL side. And it will remain as rare as it has ever been: RBNY’s preseason game against Sacramento Republic has been cancelled. The match was due to take place on February 10, and would have pitted the 2014 USL champ against the parent club of the 2016 USL champ.
But it’s not happening. Still, Sacramento Republic gets well covered by Indomitable City Soccer - and Joshua Beeman stopped by to answer a few questions for us. The game is cancelled, but this preview lives on.
Once a Metro: We don’t usually have the chance to do these articles with USL teams or teams in other leagues. Who are some of the players that people unfamiliar with Sacramento Republic FC should watch for this season?
Indomitable City Soccer: There are quite a few good players on the Republic's roster, but the ones that you should really watch for are midfielders Danny Barrera and Jeremy Hall, forwards Trevin Caesar and Tyler Blackwood, and fullbacks Emrah Klimenta and James Kiffe.
Barrera was the team captain last season and is arguably the team's most important creative player, notching 4 goals and 9 assists last season and All-USL First Team honors.
Hall is a veteran presence in the middle of the field and is one half of what could very well be the best central midfield pairing in the league -- the other half being Adam Moffat.
(Editor’s note: Hall was drafted by RBNY 11th overall in the first round of the 2009 SuperDraft. He made 37 appearances for the Red Bulls from 2009-2010, including the inaugural Red Bull Arena match against Santos FC. Hall scored in a May 2010 friendly against Juventus to help the team win 3-1. He was traded to expansion side Portland Timbers in exchange for a 3rd round 2011 SuperDraft pick in November 2010.)
Caesar and Blackwood are both new arrivals but are coming off of massive seasons with 10 goals and 8 goals respectively.
Klimenta and Kiffe have been the Republic's fullback duo since late in the 2014 season. Both of them are stellar going forward and solid defensively. Both are arguably good enough to get a shot at the MLS level.
OaM: Even though the game is only preseason, does the team view the game as much more to prove themselves capable of MLS play? How pumped are the supporters to host a MLS team?
ICS: Preseason or not, it's always big news when an MLS team comes to town. Although it may not carry the emotional weight of the (admittedly fairly one-sided) rivalry with the San Jose Earthquakes, the team absolutely see this as an opportunity to test themselves against a big league opponent.
The fans definitely feel excited to welcome another MLS team to Bonney Field. This will be the second season in a row that the team gets a non-Quakes MLS friendly. Last year it was the Colorado Rapids, which was an excruciatingly boring game. The hope is that this time around it'll be worth the price of admission.
OaM: Glad to see that Sacramento Republic FC and MLS Sacramento worked things out on their bid (as far as we know). How nervous were the fans during that 1-2 days after the team's statement? Does the team have a real commitment from the ownership to use the team for MLS promotion?
ICS: There definitely were quite a few nervous fans during last week's confusion. The most vocal (aka #NoRepublicNoParty) were less nervous and more dedicated to putting pressure on the two parties to come together. Thankfully things seem to have nearly come to a conclusion, as the two groups have an agreement in principle to come together.
Possible missing players: The team's been down in Mexico for camp, so anything could have happened. However, I haven't heard anything about injuries. Provided Emrah Klimenta has fully recovered from his torn ACL, the Republic should have all players available.
Projected starting XI: 4-4-2. Evan Newton; James Kiffe, Carlos Rodriguez, Mike da Fonte, Emrah Klimenta; Danny Barrera, Jeremy Hall, Adam Moffat, Gabe Gissie; Trevin Caesar, Tyler Blackwood.
Projected scoreline: 1- 1