Alvas Powell arrived just one day prior to the Republic's match against Arizona United but still got the nod at right back for both the week's matches. The addition of Powell forced a bit of shuffle along the backline, with normal right back Emrah Klimenta shifting to left back and usual left back Nemanja Vukovic moving to center back. One reason for Powell's immediate insertion into the starting XI is that he is almost the perfect style of fullback for the way that Sacramento play.
His skill set, namely his speed and willingness to get forward, is what makes him a good fit. Preki gives his fullbacks license to go forward and a player like Powell who can use his speed to both beat a defender and recover after a forward run is very useful.
Against Arizona, Powell pushed up the field fairly often and created some dangerous situations with his speed. His crossing was acceptable for the most part, not particularly good but not bad. His best moment in attack was a 53rd minute cross to Adam Jahn, who wasted the chance with an off target header.
The play began with 8 Republic players either in or around the final third of the field. Rodrigo Lopez sent a pass over to Powell, who chose to send in a deep cross rather than drive toward the endline. He picked out Jahn with a great cross and would have gotten an assist if his target's header had been on point.
While Powell did well going forward he was not entirely as solid defensively. He did have some good one-on-one defensive plays throughout the match but there were also a few times that he was a little to nonchalant getting back after a forward run. A good example came in the 51st minute when he was stuck near the Arizona goal when the ball was turned over.
He was too slow getting back to cover and left an Arizona forward free to make a run up the right flank for a counter. Fortunately for Sacramento the ball to try and spring a counter attack went up the middle, where Vukovic could make an interception. If that ball over the top had come down the right flank there would have been no one to stop an Arizona counter, barring Powell making an all out sprint to recover. He has that type of speed but that type of emergency recovery is not something he should rely on.
He also had some occasional defensive issues against OKC. In the 34th minute Powell found himself going toward his own endline with an Energy forward on his back. Instead of clearing the ball forward or out for a throw to remove the danger he chose to keep the ball and shield it. His decision proved to be a poor one when he was dispossessed and the OKC player was able to take control of the ball deep in the Republic's defensive third and send in a cross.
Although he did have some worrying defensive lapses in both matches, Powell's Sacramento debut week was a positive one overall. It would probably be good for both the player and the team if he sticks around like Fochive and Gleeson. Since Sacramento uses their fullbacks in the attack more than normal, staying would allow Powell to fine tune what he has already shown skill with and also gain valuable first team minutes that will give him better defensive discipline.
George Fochive started on the bench against Arizona United and came on as a 68th minute substitute for Octavio Guzman to help protect Sacramento's 1-0 lead. For the rest of the match he mostly stayed back, protected the back four and allowed Rodrigo Lopez (who played in central midfield instead of his usual spot on the left wing) to go forward with confidence. Fochive did well sweeping in front of the Republic center backs and harassing Arizona players when they had possession.
Against OKC, Fochive had an opportunity to put the Republic ahead early on when he found himself with space to shoot in the 11th minute. Unfortunately his shot sailed far over the crossbar and the chance was wasted. He did not have any close chances after that and to my memory did not create any notable chances either.
Defensively he played fairly well, although he was culpable on OKC's second goal.
When Steven Perry had the ball in the often talked about Zone 14, Fochive and two other Republic players set themselves up to block a shot but did not try and challenge for the ball. As a result of that halfhearted pressure Perry was able to play a pass to Mickey Lopez, who fired the ball into the back of the net. Fochive was the fastest to recognize the pass and almost made it to Lopez in time to get a foot in for a challenge but was ultimately too late.
The OKC goal also serves to illustrate the danger of Powell not tracking back as well. Lopez and another Energy player are completely open on the left flank and Powell only enters the frame of the video when the final pass is being made.
Steven Evans also started against OKC and arguably had a bigger contribution to the match than both Fochive and Powell. He was taken off two minutes prior to the second goal so he was not to blame for it. He also set up Sacramento's best chance of the night, a shot from right midfielder Carlos Martinez that rocketed off the crossbar and right into the hands of the OKC goalkeeper.
Jake Gleeson started for Sacramento against Arizona and earned his first shutout of the season. However, he was ruled out against OKC due to injury (officially listed as "stitches") he picked up late in the midweek match. He and an Arizona player collided in the box, with Gleeson's head hitting the other player's knee. He went down and the players around him immediately began motioning to the sidelines, which led many suspect a serious injury. However, he walked off on his own and was seen after the match with a bandage around his head and a smile on his face. The team also made a statement on Twitter saying that he was ok and not seriously hurt.
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