Preview: Back to Wine Country

(Photo by Vanessa S. Nelson)

Sacramento Gold FC is starting the second half of the 2018 NPSL season in desperate need if a boost. Does hope rest in Wine Country, where the squad heads this weekend? Here's a preview of tomorrow night's match.

In Need of a Win

The first half of the 2018 NPSL season has, in short, not gone well for Sacramento. The Gold is yet to win a match and sits in last place of the Golden Gate Conference with only four points. Four is also the number of goals the Gold has scored all year, so getting the offense back in gear this weekend is priority number one. Well, along with a win.

It will be much tougher to get three points a game in the second half slate, which starts with three straight road dates. The first of those matches is against the squad that nearly topped the Gold in Sacramento on opening day. Only a stoppage time goal salvaged a point for Sacramento. It's been downhill since then, with a series of draws followed by two straight losses. Incredibly, Sacramento is not on the worst streak in the conference.

So are the Hosts

That dubious honor belongs to Sacramento's Saturday opponent, Napa. The 1839 opened their 2018 campaign on fire, earning seven points in their first three games. However, that scorching start has since frozen over, as Napa has lost four straight matches, three to teams which have since leapfrogged them in the standings.

This sort of losing streak is regrettably familiar to Napa. The 1839 had to wait until the penultimate match of the season to record their first win of their inaugural campaign last year. Having fallen from a great start in the playoff hunt to the second-to-last spot in the conference in just over a month, Napa does not want to get back to their losing ways. Returning home against the one squad sitting lower than them, the 1839 are looking to get a jumpstart to their postseason odds.

(Photo by Vanessa S. Nelson)

Key Matchup

On paper, Sacramento has the players to be an offensive juggernaut. The offense has done well in largely all facets: possession, shots on goal, etc. However, they just can't put the ball in the back of the damn net. While Sacramento has certainly been plagued with bad luck by the soccer gods, the players have to defy the higher powers and take control of their destiny: scoring goals and give the defense a reward for their efforts.

That was the same as last week's preview and it will remain the same until Sacramento figures out its offensive woes. Only scoring four goals in seven games is inexcusable and the obvious weakness in what should be a strong squad. Unless they can figure it out, the Gold defense will need another sterling effort to give the squad a chance.

Window Closing Soon

Despite this horrific first half of the season, Sacramento is by no means throwing in the towel. The Gold's playoff chances are still quite real and entirely in its own hands. However, there are only seven more matches left in the season, six after tomorrow night. As that number gets smaller, so do Sacramento's odds of making a big comeback.

Simply put, Sacramento needs as many points as possible in every single match left. Three points against a slumping Napa squad should be doable for this group. But, the offense has to show up. Can the Gold finally put some points on the board and rack up its first win of the season? Can Napa thwart Sacramento's efforts and earn its first ever win over the Gold? We'll find out at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 12 at Dodd Stadium.