George Fochive continues to be the Timbers player to make the most impact in Sacramento. He was one of the better defensive players against OKC and a big reason that Sacramento didn't get overwhelmed after Ivan Mirkovic was sent off in the 31st minute. His strong presence in midfield allowed the rest of the team to go forward and seek an equalizer despite being a man down. Unfortunately, one never came and the Republic conceded a second goal late on as a result of some poor marking at the back post.
Fochive was not to blame for the goal because he had already been brought out of the game for fellow Timbers loanee Steven Evans in the 66th minute. Head Coach Preki's decision to take Fochive out of the match seemed strange at the time but it was most likely to ensure he would be available for the match against Colorado. He had already picked up a yellow card just before halftime and the referee was calling fouls and handing out yellow cards for fun in the second half in an attempt to regain control of the game. In retrospect it was a good decision, since as a second yellow to Fochive would have left Sacramento with neither of their normal starting center mids against a strong Colorado Rapids Reserve team.
Fochive started last Friday against the Colorado Rapids Reserves and played fairly well in the Republic's 4-3 win. In the first half he mostly sat back and did not try to do too much on offense, concentrating on keeping possession and circulating the ball. However, in the second half he got forward more and started to put together some promising attacking moves. One such move came in the 49th minute when he put Mike Fucito through behind the Colorado defense.
If not for Colorado centerback Gale Agbossoumonde getting a foot on the pass and knocking it closer to the goalkeeper, Fucito could very likely have had a goal thanks to Fochive's pass. His quick combination play with Adam Jahn gave him space to pick out his pass and his through ball was both ambitious and well hit.
Another promising attacking move from Fochive came later, in the 78th minute.
He went from his own defensive third to the attacking third, shrugging off two challenges and exchanging one-two passes with Chad Bartlome and Octavio Guzman as he went. Unfortunately his pass through to Fucito was a bit too hard and was claimed by the goalkeeper. Still, it was a promising play and showcased Fochive's strength, close control, and good passing (that second pass was especially nice, lifted up and between two Colorado players right to Guzman).
While the match against Colorado was one of Fochive's best offensive showings in the past few games, he did well on defense (except for the first 15 minutes of the second half that is, but nobody on the Republic opened the second half well). One moment that stands out in particular is in the 56th minute when he tracked back and muscled Charles Eloundou off the ball to prevent a potential counter attack.
He then shrugged off Chris Klute's challenge with ease and played the ball out to the leftback and out of danger. While it has been said before that Fochive is strong, it's nice to provide a good visual example when one presents itself.
Steven Evans also played against both OKC and Colorado, although he only started the latter game. Against OKC he was replaced Fochive in the 66th minute and played an ok game for his 24 minute shift. He was not to blame on the second goal that OKC scored since he was not in position to block the cross that came in and could not have stopped the build up to the cross.
Evans had a better game against Colorado but was still subbed off at the half for San Jose's Mike Fucito. During his 45 minutes on the field Evans mostly worked well with Fochive, although he did have a bad moment or two.
The biggest was on Colorado's first goal by Danny Mwanga. When Mwanga played a give-and-go in midfield Evans did not stay with him, allowing him to be open when he received the return pass. It is not completely Evans' fault though; Mickey Daly completely missed a slide tackle that, if it had connected, would have ended the play. Evans saw Daly coming in for the tackle and eased up, thinking the play was over. By the time he saw that Daly missed it was too late and Mwanga had lost him.
Overall it appears that Evans has established himself the go-to backup for Ivan Mirkovic in central midfield. He has started in every game that Mirkovic has been unavailable and has been a serviceable replacement for the most part.
Jake Gleeson returned from injury against Colorado Rapids Reserves after being listed as questionable for the last few games. The wait was likely a result of not wanting to rush him back so he doesn't injure himself again.
Unfortunately his return came in a game that saw him let in 3 goals, including one that came off his gloves and into the net. There were certainly a few times where he could have been better. One such time was on a corner kick when he came out to catch the ball in but did not end up catching it. It bounced off his gloves and fell inside the box. Gleeson quickly scooped it up but he was lucky that there was no Rapids player where the ball fell.
Despite the rusty performance he still had some positive moments, coming off his line to clear Colorado balls forward and making 2 saves on the night. The goals were not all his fault either. Sacramento had a poor defensive performance at the start of the second half that saw them concede 2 goals in the first 15 minutes, erasing a well earned 3-1 lead.
The Republic's next match is this Thursday against Arizona United SC at Bonney Field. Sacramento will be looking to get their first win against Arizona, having previously lost and tied to the fellow expansion team. Fochive and Gleeson are good bets to start and Evans is likely to make a substitute appearance. Kickoff is at 7:30pm and will be streamed live on YouTube.
As always, please check out Reckless Challenge for more comprehensive coverage of both Sacramento Republic and USL PRO as a whole.