As soon as I heard that the Sacramento Republic and the San Jose Earthquakes were going to be playing a pre-season match at the CSU Stanislaus campus in Turlock I knew that I had to go. I also knew that it was an excellent opportunity to report on the match to those who were not fortunate enough to go. What follows is my summary of the match and what I learned about both the Earthquakes and the Republic from their performances.
Starting Lineups (going from Goalkeeper to Forward):
San Jose Earthquakes: John Busch, Brandon Barklage, Jason Hernandez, Clarence Goodson, Jordan Stewart, Cordell Cato, Atiba Harris, Sam Cronin, Jean Baptiste Pierazzi, Adam Jahn, Chris Wondolowski.
Sacramento Republic: Jake Gleeson, Mickey Daley, Harrison Delbridge, Nemanja Vukovic, Jose “Christian” Gonzalez, Rodrigo “RoRo” Lopez, Max Alvarez, Ivan Markovic, Octavio Guzman, Justin Braun, Dakota Collins.
The game itself started off as one would have expected going in, with the Earthquakes taking the game to Sacramento. However, the Republic’s defense held up to the pressure very well, allowing few dangerous opportunities for their opponents to turn into shots. Republic goalkeeper Jake Gleeson (on loan from the Portland Timbers) came up big for the Republic when it counted for the first half, making three saves.
While the Earthquakes were certainly the better team they could not break through the Republic defense. They did however, do a good job at shutting down most of the forward thrusts by Sacramento before they got too dangerous.
The second half saw an improvement in both the Republic and the Earthquakes, with both of the goals and
the majority of scoring chances for each side coming in this half.
From the start of the half the Republic were looking much better going forward. They were making smart, quick runs off of the ball and were combining nicely. Braun, Collins, Lopez, and Alvarez seemed to have a good understanding with one another which was shown through their clever combination play.
There were a few instances in which the Republic threatened to score, including a brilliant volley from just outside the box which careened off the crossbar. Two promising chances came off of free kicks, including one where Justin Braun was about an inch or two away from heading the ball into the net before the San Jose keeper snatched it. But unfortunately for Sacramento Republic fans none of the chances their team created were put away and they finished with zero goals scored on the night.
For the Earthquakes, the most memorable moment of the second half was an injury to John Busch that came on the play with the volley I mentioned above. While jumping up to try and save what looked to be a goal, he hit his head on the crossbar and came down looking like he was in pain. Long time deputy keeper David Bingham was brought on to finish out the game. With Busch out, it seemed like a Republic breakthrough would come eventually. That was of course, until both teams made some substitutions.
The Earthquakes brought in (among others) Alan Gordon for Jahn, Billy Schuler for Wondolowski, and first round draft pick out of Stanford J.J. Koval. As soon as Gordon stepped onto the field the Earthquakes looked different. Just a few minutes after he entered the game, in the 85th minute, Gordon headed a cross from Walter Martinez (also a Quakes sub) across the goal for the rookie J.J. Koval to head in. He was also instrumental in setting up a disallowed goal for Billy Schuler soon after and the goal scored by Schuler off of a late corner kick.
It was the first time the team I was rooting for had come up against the “Never Say Die” late game comebacks that the Quakes became known for in 2012. It was not too fun. The game ended 2-0 with the Earthquakes victorious.
Gordon’s almost immediate impact on the game illustrates an important tactical point concerning San Jose. They are much better when they have a big target forward like Gordon or Steven Lenhart that can use their size and strength to bring others into the game. Adam Jahn is the other option to fill that role but I do not think that he is ready to fill that roll just yet.
Also, the central midfield for San Jose is pretty formidable. With both Sam Cronin and Pierazzi (a new signing fresh from France’s Ligue 1 team AC Ajaccio) in there the Quakes have a lot of bite in the middle of the field. I know that I wouldn’t want to be dribbling into that.
Now, for all the Sacramento Republic fans reading this that couldn’t go to the game I have only one thing to say: get excited. This team, which hasn’t even started its first season, held an MLS team to a scoreless draw for 85 minutes if not for the clutch powerhouse that is Alan Gordon. Of course it would have been great to have held that draw or even to have won but the play was encouraging. There were spaces in the second half in which Sacramento had all the momentum and were putting together some wonderful attacking moves and to be honest they were generally playing the more “aesthetically pleasing” soccer out of the two teams (The Quakes fan in me reminds the Republic fan in me to look at the scoreboard, however).
Well that does it, my first of (hopefully) many Sacramento Republic match reports. Hope you all enjoyed it!
Joshua Beeman (DJ Josh) is a newer DJ on KSSU.com and is in second his semester in the station. If you enjoyed this post, leave a comment below. You could also check out some of my other work or the work of my fellow DJs. And be sure to listen in to Just Joshing You, Thursday mornings at 10 am for great music and more local soccer news (once the USL-PRO season starts anyway) on KSSU.com!