Thomas Stewart has emerged as a star player on Sacramento Republic FC, the minor-league soccer team that’s turned into a hot ticket for sports. Republic FC faithful have swamped Track 7 Brewery near Hughes Stadium, the team’s temporary home before a move to Cal Expo, for a pint or three and some food truck offerings to get fueled before the game.
And they’ve certainly cheered for Stewart, a forward who led the team by scoring five goals through May. He’s a native of Northern Ireland who played professionally in his home country and Scotland before moving to Sacramento in February and joining Republic FC.
A double dose of soccer mania will kick off Thursday with the start of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Northern Ireland hasn’t qualified for the World Cup since 1986, but the United States will compete.
As Republic FC continues to march on with a Wednesday match in San Jose, we caught up with Stewart to talk food and soccer.
What’s your typical diet for game day?
I just try and keep it as normal as possible. I generally get up early enough to get some cereal and a cup of tea, and maybe some orange juice and a little yogurt. It’s nothing too heavy, and I try and maintain that through the day. At maybe 12 o’clock, for lunch I’ll have some pasta and chicken, or some scrambled eggs and toast. It doesn’t vary too much. At about 4 p.m. – three hours before the game – maybe I’ll have a baked potato and beans.
Once the game is over, and you’re winding down at home, do you allow yourself a pint?
I wouldn’t have a pint. I want to recover my body. I want to have something healthy, whether it’s chicken or fish. I’ve been eating a lot of Mexican food, like chicken wraps and stuff. Maybe I’ll have something a little sugary to get my body going. There’s a time for everything, and to have a drink within reason.
Who will you be rooting for in the World Cup?
Brazil. I’m going with the home nation, and I think they’re very well prepared.
If you get out to watch some games, what might you have to eat and drink?
I want to enjoy as many games as possible, whether it’s at a local pub downtown with the guys, or maybe the club will put something in. Fish and chips is a U.K. thing, so maybe I’ll have chicken wings or something like that. To drink, it’ll probably be an orange juice or a Coke.
If you did allow yourself a beer, what would you have?
I’d probably say that since I’m from Ireland, I’m having a Guinness.
You’ve only been in Sacramento a short time and I imagine been busy with the team. Have you had much chance to try any Sacramento restaurants?
Mikuni’s (is) the only one I’ve had a chance to get to. … It was pretty good.
The Republic FC games have been a hit, and there’s certainly a celebratory atmosphere in the stands. Having played in other countries, are you finding that Sacramento is a good home for soccer?
I’m delighted with all the cheering, and the people have been so friendly. It’s something this town obviously needed, and hopefully it will continue.