Last year, Republic FC signed three players late in the season and one, defender James Kiffe, had a key role in the team’s USL championship.
With the league’s rosters frozen after Tuesday, Republic FC coach Paul Buckle hinted that there could be a couple of new additions.
“There’s a possibility,” Buckle said. “I’ve been on the phone this week – there might be a surprise or two – but if I do bring people in, it’s to help this squad, not to replace anyone. ... Sometimes if you bring in one or two fresh faces, it freshens everyone up. It gives everyone a lift and people raise their games even more.”
Republic FC (10-8-5, 35 points) has five regular-season matches remaining entering Saturday’s match against the Tulsa Roughnecks FC (10-10-6, 36 points) at Bonney Field. Sacramento is in seventh place – the top six qualify for the playoffs – but just a point behind fifth-place Tulsa and the Orange County Blues FC (11-9-3). Republic FC has played three fewer matches than Tulsa.
Sacramento will be without one of its key players, defensive midfielder Ivan Mirkovic, who was suspended for two matches after receiving his eighth yellow card in last Saturday’s 1-1 draw against the Real Monarchs SLC.
“It’s a loss because he gives us a solid foundation,” Buckle said.
Sacramento lacks depth on defense. Derek Foran, normally a center defender, has played the back midfield position. Reserve defenders Matthias Bonvehi and Alfonso Motagalvan also are possibilities.
“We’re not blessed with a lot of defense-minded players for the midfield role,” Buckle said. “We’ve got a couple of players who haven’t played too much who could fill in. We have certain players who play well with each other, so that’s what I’ve got to balance off. I’ve got decisions to make.”
Experienced midfielders Octavio Guzman and Gilberto also likely will miss the match. Guzman injured his right knee Aug. 1 against Seattle Sounders FC 2 and hasn’t played since. Gilberto hasn’t played since late June because of a left knee injury.
Quakes rumble – Buckle has seen what a few late-season additions have done for the once-struggling San Jose Earthquakes, Republic FC’s Major League Soccer affiliate.
The Quakes acquired forward Quincy Amarikwa, the former UC Davis star, in a trade with the Chicago Fire in late June, then earlier this month signed midfielder Anibal Godoy from the Hungarian club Budapest Honved.
The duo helped spark an impressive three-match winning streak in which San Jose outscored the Colorado Rapids, Sporting Kansas City and D.C. United by a combined 8-0.
Despite the affiliation agreement, Republic FC hasn’t received a loan player this season.
Even though Buckle said he has had several “really good conversations” with Quakes coach Dominic Kinnear, nothing has changed with the roster freeze just days away.
When it was jokingly suggested he might ask Kinnear to send either Godoy or highly touted rookie midfielder Fatai Alashe as a fill-in for Mirkovic, Buckle laughed.
“I don’t think he likes me that much,” Buckle said. “I’ve got a lot of work to do with Dominic Kinnear for that to happen.”
Local touch – One of the key players for Tulsa this season is former Jesuit High School goalkeeper Jake Feener. Since the Rocklin native and former Seattle University standout became the starter July 9, Tulsa has gone 6-2-3 and worked its way into playoff contention. He has allowed 15 goals in 11 starts.
Feener, a teammate of Republic FC forward Cameron Iwasa at Jesuit, did not play when Republic FC beat Tulsa 3-1 in Oklahoma on June 25 to move briefly into first place in the Western Conference. Republic FC is 1-2-4 in USL matches since that victory.
Former Republic FC midfielder Chad Bond has a club-leading eight assists for Tulsa.