Watch out world: Sacramento might just be the next big soccer city to join Major League Soccer.
That’s right – MLS commissioner Don Garber has officially announced that the league will expand to 28 teams in the next few years, stating that officials “hope and expect” one of those new teams to be Sacramento Republic FC of the USL.
“We love the brand they’ve created,” Garber said. “They’ve been able to check the boxes that are required…This [Sacramento] is a soccer city, and frankly we don’t see that very often.”
His remarks come after meeting with Mayor Kevin Johnson and Republic owners Kevin Nagle and Warren Smith at a raging block party held in the city yesterday.
With Atlanta United and Minnesota United set to join the league in 2017, and Los Angeles FC and Beckham’s Miami project set to follow suit in 2018, Republic FC could find itself well en route to a 2020 debut if all things go according to plan (which, to be fair, can be quite a difficult and daunting task).
As it stands, the team draws significant crowds of around 10,000 per game (this since making its debut in 2014), and counts among its ownership ranks the likes of the Kings’ Vivek Ranadive and the 49ers’ Jed York. According to Garber, a newly formed expansion committee – composed of four existing team owners – will help these and other executives assess stadium plans and various other elements of the team’s bid.
Sacramento will be battling it out against San Diego, Detroit, St. Louis, San Antonio, and Austin for a coveted spot in the U.S.’s top professional league, but Garber admitted that the organization has shined above the rest in recent discussions and displays of interest level.
“The corporate support that was expressed in the meeting today was kind of unprecedented,” he disclosed yesterday. “We had it in [Minnesota] when we met with a diverse group of people [there]. We saw it in Orlando, but [not] to the extent in the initial phase that we saw here today.”
Seems like something pretty special is stirring up the streets of Sacramento.