Soccer

Soccer notes: Republic FC had brief Leicester City link

Republic FC looks to Academy players to get experience with big team

Republic FC coach Paul Buckle expounds on the benefits of Academy players getting national team call-ups and that some may get the chance to play in upcoming friendly matches.
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Republic FC coach Paul Buckle expounds on the benefits of Academy players getting national team call-ups and that some may get the chance to play in upcoming friendly matches.

Leicester City FC, the toast of soccer worldwide this week after winning the English Premier League championship, was linked for a nanosecond with Sacramento last July.

When Preki announced his stunning midseason departure from Republic FC , he said it was because of an opportunity to coach in the United Kingdom.

Leicester City was in the market for a coach after barely avoiding relegation in their first season back in the Premier League and a scandal that led to the firing of coach Nigel Pearson. And Preki going to England wasn’t such a stretch; he played for Portsmouth and Everton before playing and coaching in Major League Soccer.

That combination fueled Preki-to-Leicester City rumors that caught fire in the English media. Sky Bet even made him a 4-6 favorite to become the first American to coach in the Premier League.

They are truly a remarkable story. Ranieri came in, brought the team together. … It just goes to show you don’t need amazing players. You just need a full team to play and work together. They had great chemistry.

Republic FC’s Emirah Klimenta, on Leicester City FC

“I remember reading it on Twitter and thought, ‘Wow! That’s really crazy,’ ” Republic FC defender Emrah Klimenta said. “We didn’t worry about it too much because we were in the middle of our season and going through a managerial change. So we weren’t talking about it too much. But it was fun to think that might happen.”

The rumors ended almost as fast as they started. The Foxes hired Italian Claudio Ranieri, 64, and Preki still hasn’t said where he will coach next.

Ranieri, who was viewed as a coaching retread because he’d never won a top-flight championship, led Leicester City to one of the greatest turnarounds in soccer history.

The Foxes, 5,000-1 preseason long shots, won their first championship in 132 years and made the oddsmakers the biggest losers. According to the Telegraph, Leicester-related losses are an unprecedented $37 million.

Klimenta was pleased Chelsea, his favorite team, drew with Tottenham on Monday to help Leicester City secure the title. Chelsea rallied from two goals down in the second half for a 2-2 draw with second-place Tottenham, which needed a win to keep alive its title hopes.

“What a match; what a comeback,” Klimenta said. “I was thinking at first it looks like Leicester City is going to have to win the championship on another day. But then in the second half, Chelsea looked unstoppable.”

Klimenta said it was easy for soccer diehards such as himself to put aside their club allegiances to root for Leicester City, especially since he’s been a fan of Ranieri’s since he coached Chelsea.

“They are truly a remarkable story,” Klimenta said. “Ranieri came in, brought the team together. … It just goes to show you don’t need amazing players. You just need a full team to play and work together. They had great chemistry.”

Academy trio gets call – Three Republic FC Academy players were called up to their age-group U.S. national teams last week.

$37 millionOddsmakers’ losses when Leicester City FC, a 5,000-1 shot, won the English Premier League

Defender Nabilai Kibunguchy of Cosumnes Oaks High School was a member of the U-19 team that defeated Russia 2-1 for the Slovakia Cup on Friday. The UC Davis-bound Kibunguchy plays for Republic FC’s U-18 team.

Forward Shaft Brewer of Laguna Creek High participated in the U-18 training camp in Chula Vista in preparation for a series of matches in Mexico later this month and in June. Brewer had an assist on the winning goal in a 2-1 exhibition win over the Liga MX Tijuana Xolos U-20/18s on April 27. Brewer plays for Republic FC’s U-16 team.

Roseville midfielder Roberto Hategan competed for the U-16 team that beat Brazil 2-1 and England 6-5 in a penalty shootout en route to third place in the Tournament Delle Nazioni in Slovenia. Hategan plays for Republic FC’s U-14 team.

Bill Paterson: 916-326-5506, @SacBee_BillP

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