-by Josh Beeman, Reckless Challenge Correspondent for Sacramento Republic FC
Sacramento Republic FC is an expansion side, just about to play their inaugural season in USL PRO. The team was awarded to Sacramento on December 3, 2012 with Warren Smith, who has sports experience with AAA Baseball’s Sacramento River Cats, heading the ownership group.
In 2013 the team went through the process of choosing a name, color scheme, and basic crest elements using supporter suggestions and votes. At times it was ugly, with “Sacramento Magpies” as one of the final names to choose from (I still wonder how that got enough votes to be a finalist), but it turned out well in the end. The crest that the process produced has been given a generally positive reception; the most common response is that it looks somewhat like a beer logo and honestly that could either be a compliment or an insult, depending on who says it.
The reveal of the logo came during the “Sac Pro Soccer Day” that the club put on in July of 2013, an event which included exhibitions between a collection of the best local college and amateur players vs a combination of the San Jose Earthquakes reserves and academy, and the EPL’s Norwich City vs Liga MX’s Dorados De Sinaloa.
Hughes Stadium at Sacramento City College
- Has a seating capacity of 23,000
- Built in 1928, renovated in 2012
- Has a artificial turf field
Unnamed Cal Expo Facility
- Will have a seating capacity of 8,000.
- Under Construction, but will be ready for June 7 game against Arizona United SC.
- Soccer specific with a grass field.
- Facility will be temporary home until a larger MLS standard soccer specific stadium can be built.
President/Founder: Warren Smith
Executive Vice President: Joe Wagoner
Head Coach: Predrag “Preki” Radosavljević
The man, the Myth, the coach who took Chivas USA to four straight playoff appearances. Preki is a famous figure in American soccer, racking up two MLS MVP awards as a player and starring for the US Men’s National Team. After he retired at 42 he took over the reigns at Chivas USA where he was quite successful. After Chivas he moved on to Toronto FC for a fairly short but successful time (he remains one of only two coaches to leave TFC without a losing record). After some time away from the coaching side of the game he resurfaced as the coach of Sacramento Republic, where he is hoping to build a successful team from the ground up.
Technical Director: Graham Smith
Smith comes to Sacramento with a wealth of soccer experience. He served on the Board of Directors for Chelsea, played in over 200 professional games, and coached the Ventura County Fusion team that won the USL PDL championship in 2009.
Rodrigo Lopez- Oh Captain, My Captain. Lopez was the first signing for the Sacramento, he came to the team from Orange County Blues FC (then called Los Angeles Blues) and also spent some years in MLS with both Chivas USA and Portland. Last season he finished with 11 assists for the Blues and has been described as a set piece specialist by Republic Technical Director Graham Smith.
Jake Gleeson (Timbers Loanee)- Born in New Zealand, Gleeson is 23 years old but already has a fair record. He was signed in 2011 by the Portland Timbers for their inaugural MLS season and made four appearances for them in the 2011 season, including the home opener (which ended in a 4-2 victory). During the 2011 season he won two MLS Save of the Week Awards in just four appearances.
Justin Braun- A big, strong forward with considerable MLS experience, Braun comes to Sacramento after being released from his contract with Toronto FC. During his six year stint in MLS Braun scored 26 goals in 131 appearances. He played for Chivas USA (he was actually discovered by Preki during his time there), Montreal Impact, RealSaltLake, and Toronto FC. He looks to be a major part of the upcoming season as he has had by far the most MLS success than any other player on the roster and has featured in every preseason game so far.
Gilberto Dos Santos Suoza Jr.- A Brazillian defensive midfielder, his last club was the Philadelphia Union in MLS, where he did not play a single game. The last club he did play for was Atletico Sorocaba in Sao Paulo, starting 16 matches before transferring to the Union. He’s going to add some bite to the Republic midfield.
Max Alvarez- Last but not least is Sac State Alum Max Alvarez. He featured in the Sac Pro Soccer day game last year and is the only player from that team to have made the roster. He is a technical player, good with his feet and I’m excited to see what he can do at the professional level. He has been deployed as a winger for Sacramento during the preseason games.
The Republic is the first team in USL PRO to enter into an affiliation agreement with two MLS teams: Portland Timbers and San Jose Earthquakes. So far Sacramento has received three players from the Timbers (Jake Gleeson, Bryan Gallego, and Aaron Long) and none from the Earthquakes. The probable explanation is that the Quakes are still in the CONCACAF Champions League (something that could change Wednesday night in Toluca) and need all the players they can get. However, that does not explain why the Quakes loaned out David Bingham and Sam Garza to the NASL’s San Antonio Scorpions instead of their USL PRO affiliate.
The Tower Bridge Battalion is the supporters group for SacramentoRepublic. It formed before the team had a name and has been building up to the inaugural season. The group has already amassed a paid membership of 280 and expects to top 300 in the near future.
UC Davis Children’s Hospital, Great Clips
As an expansion side with no games played against USL PRO competition there is easy way to judge exactly how the Republic will fare in their inaugural season. Fortunately, my colleagues have already put in the hard work and made their predictions here.
These days it seems like everyone and their grandmother wants an MLS team, and Sacramento is no exception. From the beginning Warren Smith has been talking about the strength of the Sacramento market and the appetite for soccer the city has. Rather than just blow smoke and throw money around Sacramento decided to follow the example set by Portland, Seattle, and Orlando of proving the viability of the market through lower tier success. The criteria includes a soccer specific stadium and a dedicated fan base. While the search for a permanent stadium location goes on, the 4,500 season ticket deposits the team has received so far send a good signal on the dedicated fan base front. Overall I would say the future looks bright for the Republic, whether that future is in USL PRO or in MLS.
This is Josh’s first contribution to Reckless Challenge but not his first time writing about the Republic. He has followed the team since they were first announced and is looking forward to the inaugural season. Follow him on twitter @josh_beeman for bite sized Sacramento Republic news.