Leading Off

Leading off: Maybe an MLS team isn’t out of reach

Warren Smith, president of Republic FC, Sacramento’s USL Pro expansion team that debuts this season, issued a bold statement Tuesday in response to Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber’s comments about the city’s chances of landing an MLS team.

“Our goal has been to provide the highest quality of soccer to Sacramento and to execute on a proven business plan that builds a brand, embraces fans ...” Smith said in the statement. “Commissioner Garber’s comments prove that the plan is working and reiterates Sacramento as the indomitable city we know and believe it to be. When we host over 20,000 fans at Hughes Stadium on April 26, soccer fans around the world will know it too.”

Really, 20,000 fans?

My first reaction was to chuckle at the notion of that many folks buying tickets to watch a third-tier minor-league soccer team’s home debut against a team from Harrisburg, Pa., called the City Islanders.

My second thought was that Smith is delusional.

Even though his statement might be a reach, Smith isn’t delusional.

Even if Republic FC doesn’t pack Hughes, Smith knows a strong showing that night – and crowds of 6,000 to 8,000 throughout the team’s 14 home matches – will send a strong signal that the city eventually could support an MLS team.

Smith also knows Sacramento will have to beat out several other cities – most notably San Antonio and Minneapolis – to land what likely would be the 24th (and perhaps final) MLS team.

Smith’s group needs to generate excitement in the community, create a strong fan base and attract area businesses (and their dollars).

A big opening-night crowd would be a step in the right direction.

– Tom Couzens


Today’s poll

How many Republic FC games do you plan to attend this season?

• All 14

• 8-13

• 1-7

• None

Vote above, or go to sacbee.com/sports

Wednesday’s results

Was Ian Kinsler joking about wanting Texas to go 0-162 this season?

• Yes, why would he care what Texas does now? 443%

• No, he’s a player who holds a grudge: 57%

Total votes: 49

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