Sports relationships can be beautiful things. Where would Tinker be, for instance, without Evers and Chance? Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier may have hated each other, but their trilogy of heavyweight fights sent them off lovelocked in the arms of history. Montana to Clark? Somebody even named a racehorse after them. What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the name John Stockton? Pick and roll to Karl Malone, of course.
Maybe it’s just wistful thinking, and admittedly, it is highly improbable. But maybe someday in the soccer future of Sacramento, if and when the city gains top-tier status in the United States version of the world game, and if the right people in the right positions actually imagine it, the names of the Republic FC duo of Adam Jahn and Harry Williams might be remembered as one of the finer hookups in our local sports lore.
Time after time in Saturday night’s match against the Seattle Sounders 2, the ball came down the middle of the pitch in the general direction of Jahn. The large-ish forward from Davis and Jesuit High School and Stanford made the collection with his chest or feet and immediately looked to the either side to glimpse the onrushing young Englishman from Cheltenham who still isn’t old enough to drink legally in the nation where he does his kicking for a living. A touch later, and whoosh – Williams was putting the ball on goal. And on one occasion in the 2-1 victory over Seattle, he slipped it past the keeper and into the net.
It was only the second time this season that Williams and Jahn had been on the field together, and for the first 45 minutes, they made Seattle goalkeeper Charlie Lyon play the part of the clay pigeon. Only Lyon, being a live, living being, fought back. Lyon impeded most of the Jahn-Williams combinations, as well as other attacks the Republic arranged for him, to save Seattle from abject embarrassment.
Lyon’s gyrations aside, there was no mistaking the magic that had taken shape between Jahn and Williams. What a shame if it was only a one-night stand, or just a couple-month fling.
Hard reality says the pairing won’t last long.
Jahn, of course, doesn’t even belong to the Republic. He plays here on loan from the Silicon Valley, home to the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer, which doesn’t even charge interest on the algorithmic soccer brilliance Jahn generates on this side of the coastal range.
Sadly, however, after this year, the Earthquakes will be done with us. They’re planning to blow California for the other side of Stateline. Next year, their affiliation will be confined to providing players to the new United Soccer League team in Reno, rather than the Republic.
What San Jose’s love affair with Reno might mean for Jahn and the Republic and Williams and all of Sacramento is unclear. Jahn said after the Saturday night match that he is entering a netherworld in his relationship with the Quakes. He hasn’t been in the league long enough to qualify for free agency, but he said he still will be able to conduct some sort of negotiation with San Jose in the offseason about his future.
If no new agreement is reached, “I’ll get entered into the re-entry draft for any other MLS team to come pick me up,” the 25-year-old Jahn said.
If only Sacramento had one. We might, by the year 2020, which is way too far into the future to conceive. Most of us are day-to-day.
Republic FC’s slogan is “Built for MLS,” which may be underselling the club. While the building of the Republic progresses nicely, the MLS, unhappily, may not be built for Sacramento. The league’s over-cautionary lack of confidence in soccer’s popularity, not to mention its refusal to consider promotion and relegation, keeps the Republic FC on its doorstep and MLS as barely a blip on the radar of major-league sports in North America.
Some of us around here have suggested that Sacramento junk the idea of MLS and apply for entry in the Mexican league. It remains a more exciting option. You can’t build a wall high enough to separate the peoples and cultures of the nation-state of California and the nation to the south. Besides, their league is better. Another Modelo, por favor.
Meanwhile, how about a light summertime toast to the idea of the Republic making a play for Jahn? Of course he’d rather play in the MLS, as would the Republic. Maybe the local team could loan him out as needed to an MLS club, as the MLS does to us peons in the USL. Or maybe the MLS can move things along a little quicker and make the overdue move to add Sacramento to its fold.
No matter what happens, it would be great to see Jahn spend more time with Harry Williams, to further electrify their connection.
Williams is only 20, and people like Republic coach Paul Buckle and technical director Graham Smith who are putting a team together with the laudable goal of moving to MLS have to figure that by the time their club graduates from the USL the kid is going to be ready to make his mark as a big-timer.
He’ll need a partner, and we saw the perfect guy for the part the other night.
Andy Furillo: 916-321-1141, @andyfurillo