Republic FC could have its most explosive offensive team in club history when it takes the field for the 2017 USL season.
Sacramento brought aboard Major League Soccer and New York Cosmos midfield veteran Adam Moffat and prolific forward Trevin Caesar this week in the latest signings of players who can score goals.
Moffat, 30, had eight goals for the Cosmos last season while Caesar, 27, scored 10 goals for the Orange County Blues FC. The Trinidad & Tobago national had nine goals in 2015 with the Austin Aztex. Republic FC coach Paul Buckle said Caesar is a player with uncommon speed and pace.
Sacramento earlier signed former Queens Park Rangers forward Tyler Blackwood. The 6-foot-2, 25-year-old London native scored eight goals last season for Arizona United SC (now Phoenix Rising FC).
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Republic FC already has seven forwards under contract this season and could have as many as nine when the team heads to Mexico for training camp early next month.
Director of football Graham Smith and Buckle think one of the elements the team has lacked the past two seasons was a diverse attack from the offensive half. Republic FC won the USL Western Conference regular season last season but was shut out for the second consecutive year in the opening round of the playoffs at Bonney Field.
“If we could have scored goals, we would have walked away with everything because we otherwise had a very solid team,” Smith said. “We feel if we had more players who shared the goal-scoring load, we would have been OK.”
Republic FC had only one double-figure goal scorer in USL play in 2015 and 2016. Rodrigo Lopez led Republic FC with 10 goals two years ago. Cameron Iwasa had 12 league goals last season, but Sacramento’s No. 2 scorers were rookie forward Harry Williams and defender Mike da Fonte, with four apiece.
When Sacramento won the USL championship in its inaugural season, battle-tested veterans Thomas Stewart and Lopez has 11 and 10 goals, respectively.
After Stewart was sent to the Ottawa Fury FC midway through last season, Republic FC became decidedly younger on the forward line. Iwasa and late-season signing Wilson Kneeshaw are 23, Christian Chaney is 22 and Williams is 20. Attacking midfielder Daniel Trickett-Smith is 21. The old man among potential scorers was 26-year-old reserve Mackenzie Pridham.
All but Iwasa and Pridham are back, but the youngsters may have to battle even harder for playing time this season. (Iwasa signed this week with Sporting Kansas City of the MLS and Pridham will play next season for Reno 1868.)
“The competition is going to be massive,” Smith said. “With the number of forwards we have, you can’t play everyone.”
Also in the wings is intriguing Lamin Suma, a 25-year-old native of Sierra Leone who has played professionally in Serbia, Estonia and Finland. Gabe Gissie also has returned after spending last season with USL Eastern Conference side Bethlehem Steel FC. He played in 2014 and 2015 with Republic FC, yet is only 20.
“We’ve added a little more experience, a little more variety,” Buckle said. “I think we have improved all the way across the front line.”
Smith said Buckle can pick and choose how he wants to attack teams each game.
“Will he play a 4-4-2, or will he play a 4-3-3?” Smith said. “Will he go into some games with one guy up front? It gives him so many tactical combinations, and we’re hoping the fans will be able to sit back and watch goals going into the net.”
Note – The Republic FC announced Thursday that it will host FC Cincinnati in a friendly match on March 4 at Bonney Field. Tickets go on sale Jan. 19 at 10 a.m. via ticketmaster.com. For more information, go to sacrepublicfc.com.