Josh Beeman covers the Sacramento Republic for Reckless Challenge and is giving us an update on their on-loan Portland Timbers.
As many of you probably know, the Timbers are affiliated with Sacramento Republic FC of USL PRO and are required to loan out a minimum of two players as part of that agreement. So far this season the Timbers have sent four players on loan to Sacramento: Jake Gleeson, Aaron Long, Bryan Gallego, and George Fochive. Of these four players only Gleeson and Fochive are with the team currently.
Aaron Long made two appearances for Sacramento before his return to the Rose City mothership. The first was a substitute appearance in a 1-1 draw with LA Galaxy II and the second a start against Orange County Blues FC in a 2-1 loss. He was recalled the week of April 26.
Bryan Gallego did not make any appearances for Sacramento during his time with the team and was recalled along with Long the week of April 26. He was immediately loaned out to another USL PRO side, Arizona United SC. He has started two games for his new club and recorded an assist in his most recent outing against the Charlotte Eagles.
Jake Gleeson has been Sacramento's starting GK from day one but missed three games as a result of a right groin injury sustained in the third game of the season against Orange County Blues FC. Sacramento averaged 1 point per game in his absence with a 1-2-0 record. In this past weekend's home rematch against the Blues, Gleeson returned from injury and was reinserted into the starting lineup. While he failed to earn his first clean sheet of the season, he did pick up his second win and improve the average points per game with him as goalkeeper to 1.75 (with a record of 2-1-1). He also made a huge save late on to preserve the win for Sacramento, coming way off of his line to stop a one-on-one situation from tying the game.
Gleeson has been recognized by the league for his play on one occasion so far this season, earning a place in the Week 2 Team of the Week for his 5 save game against LA Galaxy II.
George Fochive is the most recent arrival to the Republic but has certainly been the most exciting. He was loaned to Sacramento in the same transaction that took away Long and Gallego. He made his first professional appearance for his new team that weekend in the home opener against the Harrisburg City Islanders as a substitute, playing just under a half hour. While he could not salvage a draw for the Republic, he brought a lot of energy to the midfield and was impressive. He saw and gravitated toward space left open by a Harrisburg team that was defending deep in their own half, eventually getting a shot on goal that unfortunately did not seem to be hit exactly how he wanted.
With his impressive performance in the opener, Fochive was handed a starting spot in the center of Sacramento's midfield in last weekend's win. He may not have scored or racked up an assist, but he played all 90 minutes and was all over the field. At times he stayed back just in front of the center backs to help recycle possession through the midfield. Other times he was pushing up, causing problems for the opposition with his dribbling and aggressively attacking space.
One particular play stands out in my mind where Fochive received the ball with ten yards of space in front of him. He immediately charged into the space, drawing two Orange County players to him before sliding a pass to Adam Jahn. Jahn would then play a pass to Thomas Stewart, who was left open because his marker had been drawn away by Fochive's initial run. While the play did not result in a goal, it is a fine example of the attacking spark that the young Timber's loanee brought to the home side.
When asked after the game about his quick insertion into the starting lineup, Fochive said "I can't really tell you why I got the spot. I'm just happy to have it and to be able to show something to the club and say thank you for giving me a chance."
For more comprehensive coverage of Sacramento Republic FC and USL PRO as a whole, head to Reckless Challenge.