The Republic Report

Sep 10, 2014 2 Comments
Photo By: entitee

Photo By: entitee

If you’ve been following our coverage of the Sacramento Republic FC, the inaugural season for the club has been monumental on so many levels. From record-shattering attendance – to success on and off the field – the arrival of the Republic in Sacramento has created a five-month buzz in the community that frankly hasn’t been experienced in Sacramento in a very long time. Having been right in the middle of it, as a Sacramentan and sports fan, it’s been incredible to be part of.

So with a successful inaugural season drawing to a close, what’s the current state of the Republic FC? How could their season possibly get better? Well, judging by the last month, I can tell you that it HAS gotten better, and it appears that there is more to come. Let’s explore.

On the Field

Orlando City may be on top of the table, but make no mistake about it, the Republic are the United Soccer Leagues (USLPRO) hottest team right now – despite their 1-2 loss to LA Galaxy II last Saturday night. Prior to that loss (in which much of the first line sat out most the contest), the Republic were riding a 10 match unbeaten streak and a 12 match unbeaten streak at home. You’d have to go all the way back to July 12 to find the last Republic loss, in which they fell on the road 1-2 against the Richmond Kickers.

The Republic have surged to the top of the USLPRO standings, with their 55 points second only to Orlando City’s 62. During their most recent streak, not only did they lock up second place in the league, they also clinched their first ever playoff appearance on August 17 with a 6-1 trouncing over the Orange County Blues.

But they didn’t stop there. The Republic then secured a guaranteed home playoff match with their 2-0 win over the Wilmington Hammerheads the very next game and a second round playoff match with their win over the Oklahoma City Energy, if they can win their first home playoff match. I’m REALLY going to go out on a limb here and say that’s not too bad for an inaugural season.

Contributions for the Republic have come from all over the field during the streak, but look no further than #8 Rodrigo Lopez (@Lopez_Roro). As the leader, and first signee of the Republic, Lopez has had an MVP-type season. Among all USLPRO players, Lopez is third in Points (28), eighth in goals (10), second in assists (8) and fifth in shots (47). The bottom line is this. With Lopez playing as well as he has and constantly creating opportunities on the field, you can be sure that the Republic are poised to make a strong playoff run.

Photo via @SacRepublicFC

Photo via @SacRepublicFC

Off the Field

Where do I start? There has been so much off-the-field news as it relates to Sacramento’s quest to become a Major League Soccer (MLS) city, that as I’m writing this, there’s probably been a new development. Yes, things have moved that fast. In just the last month, the Republic, Mayor Kevin Johnson and other key potential Republic investors met with MLS officials in Portland during the MLS All-Star game. Literally at the same time, Sacramento Bee columnist (@MarcosBreton) broke the biggest news that the NBA Sacramento Kings were in discussions with the Republic to buy/invest in the club. Got all that? Good, I’m not done.

Fast forward a few weeks later, MLS confirms that they plan to visit Sacramento (and Elk Grove) to explore more on September 18 & 19, which includes looking at potential sites for a soccer stadium, and then just this past week, it’s announced that Kings minority owner Kevin Nagel has bought controlling interest in the Republic. What?!?!?!  I told you things were moving fast.

My thoughts on the last month are this. Sacramento, the Republic and the MLS are flat out not messing around. For the city and the Republic, they know this could be their one shot (at least for the foreseeable future) to make MLS in Sacramento a reality. As far as MLS is concerned, they clearly see the value of bringing soccer to Sacramento (e.g., incredible fan support, no competition from other sports and untapped/underserved market).

MLS and Sacramento would be a perfect fit, and if they can find a way to build a soccer stadium in the downtown rail yards, how can MLS not award Sacramento a franchise? The decision could come as soon as the end of the year, so as crazy as the last month has been, it does make some sense given it’s already September.  

Looking Ahead

As mentioned earlier, the Republic will host their first playoff game on Saturday, September 13 against Wilmington, which the Republic was 1-0-1 against this season. And oh yeah, this game will take place a few days before the MLS visit. A deep playoff run will fuel an already fired up fanbase and city, not to mention, provide a little extra momentum that can only help Sacramento’s effort to become a MLS city.

To compliment the playoff run and MLS push, the organization just launched a new social media campaign encouraging fans to post reasons why Sacramento is a MLS city using hashtag #BuiltForMLS and they’ve been out in the community in full force – from free soccer clinics to player appearances.  In every way, the Republic continue to do everything right to position themselves for success.

Look, I don’t think anyone knows what will happen. There are several other more than qualified cities that are vying for the last few expansion slots, but I do know this. It’s going to be an incredible few weeks in Sacramento, because the team and city (to their credit) are making a lot of noise. If I’ve learned anything since the Republic stormed into Sacramento earlier this year, it’s this. Expect the unexpected.

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2 Responses to “The Republic Report”

  1. Mark Henry says:

    Nice wrap up of the great season it’s been. One thing that I think is worth keeping in mind is that we don’t need to be MLS. While that is the ideal of a city to have the top money spinner, I think the intimacy and success of the existing team and location is plenty fun & entertaining. If they became MLS would it be more fun? Not necessarily.
    So I’m all for the MLS, but if it doesn’t happen I hope people don’t get all upset over it, ’cause what will happen is it will mean the departure of a lot of the current players who won’t stack up maybe and they’re the ones who have made the season what it is. Be careful what you wish for ’cause you might just get it.
    Go Repub on Saturday!!!!!!

  2. William Hodges says:

    Hey Mark.

    Thanks for reading and commenting. I think you make an excellent point. I will say that MLS or not, I believe people will still follow because that’s just the way Sacramento rolls. We’re a great sports town through and through. I just love how the Republic and city are just going for it you know? Anyway, thanks again for reading.

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