- Kyle Eng, Arizona United owner, dishes on club’s key off-season moves
- NBC Sports’ Premier League coverage to go live in ‘Super Bowl Central’
- NBC Sports to live broadcast Premier League studio show in downtown Phoenix on Jan. 31
- Devon Grousis in talks with USL PRO and NASL clubs but hoping for Arizona United return
- Rob Valentino, still striving for MLS, but focused on Arizona United
Arizona United vs. Sacramento Republic FC match preview, prediction
- Updated: April 19, 2014
Arizona United played its first minutes as a team vs. another opponent in its first ever regular season match last week.
The USL PRO expansion club had virtually no preseason to work together. The first five weeks of its existence as a team with players, which includes its first four matches that actually count, will have to serve as “preseason.”
“I have a plan in place,” Arizona United coach Michael Dellorusso told ODFCnews.com on Friday. “We knew it was going to be tough for the first month or so, at least the first couple of weeks. The defeat last weekend was tough because obviously we want results and we want to put out a good production the field. But it’s a learning process. I explained to the guys this week, it’s all a learning process. They have to be patient and they have to understand. But I did bring in competitors. At the end of the day, we don’t want to lose. I told them, if we learn from last week and we get better then it would all be worth it.”
Arizona United (0-1-0) will have to as it faces upstart Sacramento Republic FC (2-1-1 and ODFCnews.com’s No. 1 team in USL PRO) tonight at Peoria Sports Complex.
“I don’t think we’re going to be a finish product (by Saturday),” Dellorusso said. “But at the end of the day, we want to get results. I think we’re talented enough. I still think we have a group that is cohesive enough to get results. I don’t really want to push excuses out there. Obvisouly, we understand that it’s going to take some time to gel. But I think with the talent that we have, we should be able to get results.”
Arizona United will be without right back London Woodberry, who received two yellow cards and a red in a span of six minutes late in the first half. So Dellorusso will have to go with a different starting XI vs. Sacramento.
“We’re going to make a couple adjustments and see how guys do in different areas,” Dellorusso said. “I don’t have a set 11. I don’t have a set 18 (matchday roster). It’s still very early. I’m also a coach who believes in getting a lot of competition in all areas of the field. Throughout the year, there will be changes when guys are in form. And they’ll earn the right to play. And I believe very heavily in that. I’m not a guy who sticks with an 11 if those aren’t the best 11 players performing right there and then. Obviously, on Saturday we’ll have a couple of changes and see how it works together. I’m confident of the group I’m putting out.”
Despite missing forward Justin Braun to a hamstring injury this weekend, Republic FC will still be a tough match up for Arizona United. Republic FC’s players have already shown chemistry on the field.
“They all have similar styles,” Dellorusso said. “Preki knows them very well. Preki (Republic FC coach) is a good attacking coach. They all move the ball well. They have a good attacking style. I like how they play. Like any team, there are certain parts of them that we can expose. That’s the challenge we put in front of the guys. I pointed out where we can get at them, and (tonight) we’ll see if we can get that done. I have the utmost respect for Preki and what he’s done with the guys there. They believe in his philosophy and they play well together.”
Dellorusso hopes he can get his players to that level of understanding soon.
“Communication is improving; they’re expressing themselves,” Dellorusso said. “That’s what I want them to do. They all now they’re here for a reason. We all have trust in them. But they have to show a little more individualism. And that comes with being comfortable with each other.”
Note: Arizona United officially announced Friday the signings of midfielder Jose Ramos, a Trevor Browne High product who played for Phoenix FC last season, and defender Kevin Cope, the 25th overall selection in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft.
Now onto today’s match preview and prediction:
ARIZONA UNITED (0-1-0, 0 points) vs. SACRAMENTO REPUBLIC FC (2-1-1, 7 points)
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Peoria Sports Complex.
Online stream: youtube.com/user/USLPRO
Key Republic FC players:
Max Alvarez: The rookie midfielder has played well and aggressive in his first four professional matches. Alvarez has one goal and leads the team in shots (seven) and fouls (eight). Alvarez played for FC Tucson in 2012.
Michael Fucito: The 28-year-old midfielder is on loan from the San Jose Earthquakes, one of Republic FC’s MLS affiliates. Fucito has played for four MLS clubs, getting much of his playing time with the Seattle Sounders. Fucito scored three goals in three seasons at Seattle.
Rodrigo Lopez: The midfielder was Republic FC’s first ever signing. He played with the Portland Timbers when the club was in USL’s first division and during the club’s first MLS season. Lopez, who played for Orlando City and the Los Angeles Blues the last two years, has one assist this season.
Probable Arizona United FIRST XI:
First XI (above): GK Evan Newton, LB Joseph Toby, LCB Daniel Antunez, RCB Tyler Ruthven, RB Matt Kassel, LCM Joey Dillon, RCM Paolo DelPiccolo, CAM Jonathan Top, LW Jon Okafor, RW Bradlee Baladez, CF Brandon Swartzendruber.
*Subject to change if Arizona United reveals Keon Daniel’s signing Saturday.
Reserves available: Kevin Cope, Devon, Scott Morrison, Charles Renken, Widner St. Cyr, Brad Stisser, Jacole Turner.
Out: London Woodberry (red card suspension).
Sacramento Republic FC is missing its best player in Braunaldinho (Justin Braun), a forward who has scored two goals this season, but the team likely won’t skip a beat. Preki, Republic FC’s coach, is a proven professional manger. The fact that Republic FC is playing so well in its first four matches of its history is a testament to Preki’s coaching ability. Arizona United will trot out a different lineup due to London Woodberry’s red card last week. Matt Kassel, an attacking midfielder, is likely to line up at outside back to not only help stretch the field out wide in attack but also help the back line in possession. Paolo DelPiccolo and Bradlee Baladez will be key in helping cover the back when Kassel goes forward in attack. Jonathan Top drops closer to midfield from his center forward position and his presence there should help the team maintain possession and move the ball better. Swartzendruber will need service to be effective.
Sacramento Republic FC 2, Arizona United 1
SAC – Fucito (25′)
SAC – Collins (59′)
AZU – Okafor (63′)
ODFCnew’s record: 0-1
And now, your Moment of Zin(edine Zidane):