Republic FC expects to hear update from MLS soon

Sacramento on verge of Major League Soccer franchise

MLS Commissioner Don Garber says he expects Sacramento to land team in next round of expansion, likely in 2020.
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MLS Commissioner Don Garber says he expects Sacramento to land team in next round of expansion, likely in 2020.

Republic FC president Warren Smith had some potentially good news for Sacramento soccer fans Wednesday night at Bonney Field, where the team held an open practice before a question-and-answer session with Smith and coach Paul Buckle.

Smith told the estimated 1,000 season-ticket holders on hand he expects to receive word next week from Major League Soccer’s board of governors and Commissioner Don Garber on an updated timetable for Sacramento’s entrance into the league.

“The MLS All-Star game is in San Jose this year and the board of governors will meet and perhaps we’ll have a timetable then,” Smith told the fans. “They resolved the Miami issue, so maybe we’re next.”

Former international and MLS star David Beckham and his investment group have recently purchased land in the Miami area for a stadium, and MLS has said it wants a team in Florida before it considers further expansion. Smith said Wednesday that in private talks with MLS officials in the past he’s been told to stay the course and Sacramento will be in MLS. Smith hopes to be given the nod so he can break ground on a new stadium as soon as possible. The environmental impact report is due to be completed in October, Warren said.

In April, the club released architectural plans for a 25,000-seat, $226 million, privately financed MLS stadium that will cover 16 acres in the northeast corner of the downtown railyard.

Smith said having a team in the new stadium by the 2019 MLS season is a realistic expectation if he gets the green light next week. He said it’s important to build now rather than wait even a year because financing costs only compound. Smith said the ownership group could break ground on the new stadium as early as February if it gets the OK from MLS.

Klimenta surgery successful – Republic FC defender Emrah Klimenta underwent surgery at UC Davis Health System’s Outpatient Surgery Center on Wednesday to repair the ACL in his left knee.

Dr. Cassandra Lee of the UC Davis Sports Medicine Department performed the surgery and said the damage was limited to his ACL.

Klimenta suffered the injury in the opening minutes against the Seattle Sounders FC 2 on July 2. He is expected to return to training in February, team officials said.

MLS vet joins team – Republic FC received defender Jeremy Hall on loan this week from the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the North American Soccer League.

Hall, 27, will be expected to replace the backfield marking duties of Klimenta. Hall played seven seasons in MLS with the New York Red Bulls, Portland Timbers, FC Dallas, Toronto FC and New England Revolution. He made 127 appearances, including 108 starts. Hall scored two goals and recorded six assists in 9,782 career MLS minutes.

“I thought things would be a lot different in Tampa Bay, and I told them if they didn’t plan on playing me, then I have to go somewhere and play,” said Hall, who played for the Puerto Rican national team against the United States in May. “I’m really excited to be here and help such a fine team. I already know Evan (Newton) and Daniel (Trickett-Smith), and I played with Danny Barrera for the U-17 residency program.”

Buckle also introduced two British trialists to the open practice Wednesday – midfielder Jordan Lussey and forward Wilson Kneeshaw. Lussey played for Liverpool’s Under-21 squad in 2015 before being released. He has not played this season. Kneeshaw has not played since the end of the 2014 season, when he played for FC Timisoara of the Romanian League.

UC Davis Health System announced their continuing sponsorship of Sacramento Republic FC and their commitment to the team should they join the MLS

Mark Billingsley is a Carmichael-based freelance writer. Reach him at or @editorwriter001.