Glory Glory Sacramento!

As Phil and I have said before, we here in Sacramento have a new soccer team.  Sacramento Republic FC!!  It isn’t MLS, but I’ll get to that.  We are super proud of our beloved team.  So, when they announced season tickets went on sale, Phil was right there to grab himself a couple!  Me?  Well, I live too far away and have too many responsibilities.  Phil is still care (and child) free.  As the season went along, I tried my best to get down to his place to go to a game.  Unfortunately, it just didn’t work out.  Then, the Republic made the playoffs…

Phil was out of town on vacation and missed the first two playoff games.  Both victories.  He came back, and I asked if there was a chance he would have an extra ticket to the championship match which was luckily held right here at Bonney Field in Sacramento!  Well, he said no.  So that was that.  Until Friday night!  Last minute, he ended up with an extra ticket, and I jumped all over it.

Me and Phil

Me and Phil

After a little pregame drinking, and the Tottenham vs. Arsenal game on TV, we were off!  The game was amazing!  I will be honest, I don’t know much about soccer, but I’m pretty sure we beat the sh*t out of Harrisburg City, 2-0.  If I could figure out how to post a video that I recorded and not from YouTube, I’d show you the video of the second goal I recorded.  I was trying to get the end of the game and the celebration, and they scored.  Two birds, one stone.

Our Seats

Our Seats

Now, who is jealous of our celebrity fan?  That’s right!  Our little minor league team has a celebrity fan!  Thank you for the support, Colin Hanks!  He loves his hometown!  Thanks, Colin!

He’s right about this team and town.  Next up, get this team into MLS!  Officials were in town this summer to see if we are a viable town for expansion.  Seems like it to me, and this picture from the Sacramento Bee sure seems to agree with me and everyone else in this town.  Glory Glory Sacramento.

 

In the Battalion: Pro Soccer in Sacramento

I’ve been meaning to write a post on pro soccer coming to Sacramento for some time now, and maybe it was the fact that Eric beat me to the punch, but I’ve finally awoken from my blogging malaise and am ready to chime in on a subject that I truly am passionate about.

Like professional soccer in the rest of the United Sates, pro soccer in California’s capital has had a mixed history. Sacramento has hosted a number of amateur, semi-pro, and professional soccer teams over the years; the most “famous” of which was probably the professional indoor soccer team, the Sacramento Knights. Despite its spotty history, however, I’ve always felt that professional soccer could work in Sacramento. Having played club soccer (teams that travel to compete in tournaments across the state) for years, I’ve long known about the strong community of soccer-savvy individuals that live in the greater Sacramento area. Like most families with the kind of expendable income required to fund their vicarious children’s pursuit of sporting glory, these folks tended to be middle- to upper-middle class. When combined with the more stereotypical soccer mom’s as well as the large numbers of families that have settled in the Sacramento area from countries far more passionate about the sport of soccer than their adopted one, there always seemed to be enough of a market for a pro team to take hold…if it was done right.

Enter the Republic FC.

From the moment the team was announced, the Republic, led by president/founder Warren Smith (who also has ties to Sacramento’s minor league baseball team, the River Cats) have fostered a sense of community and purpose. Everything done on the field (hiring former U.S. Men’s National Team player Predrag “Preki” Radosavlijevic, forming affiliations with the San Jose Earthquakes and Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer (MLS), building a temporary, soccer-specific stadium at Cal Expo) and off it (special events, community outreach, partnering with the supporter’s group Tower Bridge Battalion) has been focused on one clear goal: building a professional soccer team in Sacramento that will last.

Whether or not the Republic will succeed or follow in the footsteps of its predecessors remains to be seen. Many will argue that the Republic’s long-term success will hinge on whether or not it can break into the MLS. This is a complex process that generally requires three main ingredients: deep pocketed owners, a strong fan base, and a soccer-specific stadium. Based on a very small sample size, Sacramento appears to at least have a fan base that is ready to support a local soccer team. The Republic home opener drew over 20,000 fans in a sellout game at Hughes Stadium. Their following game drew over 17,000 fans, which was more than three of the seven MLS matches that occurred on that same day (per the Sacramento Bee).

The numbers–of fans and those preceded by dollar signs–will eventually decide if Sacramento gets to play in the MLS sandbox, but that’s for the executives of the Republic and the MLS to worry about. Personally, I’m just excited to have a local team in a sport I love. As someone who wakes up early on the weekends to catch EPL matches, it’s thrilling to have something resembling a “true,” professional soccer atmosphere in my own backyard. It’s also about civic pride. Sacramento is a great city with the reputation for being a one-trick sports town (i.e., the Kings), but the truth of the matter is that we have the capacity to support multiple sports franchises. And as any long-time Kings fan will surely attest, we Sacramentans will support our teams through thick and thin.*

So I would encourage everyone, whether you avidly love soccer or are lukewarm towards the beautiful game (like Eric), to get out and support the Republic FC. You’ll be treating yourself to a fun experience, but more importantly, helping to ensure that a professional sports team and community partner gains traction in our great city. As members of the Tower Bridge Battalion would say (sing), “Glory, glory Sacramento!

*Unless the owners decide to throw mud in our face. ::cough::the Maloofs::cough::

Sacramento Republic FC

Okay so maybe this is a little localized.  But it’s pretty important here in Sacramento.  We have our own professional soccer club!  The Sacramento Republic FC.  I will admit that I am usually only interested in soccer every four years for the World Cup.  International soccer gets me interested, but MLS, or English Premier League I couldn’t care less about.  But put a club in my backyard?  Yeah, I’m going to pay attention.

We have now had two home matches and are 1-1.  Phil is lucky.  He has season tickets. I guess lucky isn’t the word I should use.  Phil shelled out the cash for season tickets.  He also lives much closer to the stadiums than I do.  I say stadiums on purpose.  I’ll get there.  Hey Phil, where are the pictures that I would have expected to be online by now?  Phil stands with the Tower Bridge Battalion!  He’s a big deal downtown.  Well, he’s there.  Maybe not the biggest of deals, but I assume he’s a deal.  The team is not part of Major League Soccer, or MLS.  The team is part of the United Soccer League, and we couldn’t be prouder of our boys.

In the first match, the club lost 2-1.  They won by the same score in the second match.  Both matches were at a stadium that holds over 20,000 people.  The first match was sold out.  They set an attendance record for the league by 9,500 people!!  The second was around 17,000 people if I read it correctly.  It was on the campus of a college here in Sacramento.  The reason is, they are still building the stadium that was designed for the club.  It holds 8,000 people.  Uh…. I’m curious if it’s capable of doubling the capacity.  We need to get MLS to notice!  The designers may have underestimated the desire for soccer in this town.  The coolest part is while 20,000 people were selling out a soccer match, across town 15,000 people were selling out a AAA minor league baseball River Cats game.  This is a great sports town, no matter what anyone will say about us.

Anyway, I am proud of my teams.  I am proud of my town.  And I am proud of Phil for being there every match.  I get to watch on YouTube, so that’s cool.  I gotta convince Phil to ditch his wife and take me to once.  Maybe twice.

Oh!  Also happy Star Wars Day!  May the 4th be with you!