The Sacramento Republic FC has made quite an impact since their debut a few weeks ago. Their home games at Hughes Stadium have attracted over 20,000 for each match, and attendance at the game on May 17 tied a USL PRO attendance record for a regular season game, also set by the Republic, with 20,231 fans witnessing the exciting match. This was the Republic’s second sellout of the season. As their popularity grows, so does enthusiasm for the team–and even some rivalry.
At the game on May 17, the Republic faced the Los Angeles Galaxy II and a new rivalry was born. Chants of “Beat LA, Beat LA” echoed throughout the stadium even before the game began.
Fans did not have to wait long to cheer for their beloved football club as the Republic scored in the 7th minute of the game thrilling its fans. Thomas Stewart scored his third goal of the season with an assist from Harrison Delbridge. Stewart maneuvered a sly move as he handled the ball off his chest and took a right-footed shot over the the Galaxy II’s goalkeeper Cody Laurendi.
Fans celebrated the goal on the stands as players enthusiastically did the same on the field.
The Galaxy II ruined fan festivites as they scored in the 16th minute of the game. Republic FC goalkeeper Jake Gleeson prevented the Galaxy II from scoring a couple of times before. However the Galaxy II’s Rafael Garcia put a cross towards Kyle Venter who headed the ball towards the Republic’s goal. Gleeson fully stretched to prevent the goal but the strategic header was beyond his grasp.
Halftime ended with a 1-1 draw. The game was exciting from beginning to end and a 1-1 draw would not satisfy the Republic fans this time.
The game at times began to look like a rugby match as a scrum resulted after several minor altercations. LA Galaxy II’s Garcia was in the middle of several pushing exchanges. At around the sixth minute of the second-half Garcia was red carted for another altercation incident. The Republic played the rest of the game with a one man advantage.
At the 67th minute the Republic scored their second goal on a set play after LA’s Bradley Diallo committed a foul just outside the Galaxy II goal box. The Republic’s Rodrigo Lopez curved the direct kick past the defender’s wall and beyond goalkeeper Laurendi’s outstretched arms.
The crowd went wild as the Republic took a 2-1 advantage.
The Galaxy II played well with just 10 players and missed a couple of near goal opportunities. The Republic also tried to score some more but the game ended with a 2-1 victory for the home team.
Team staff has done a great job building up enthusiasm and organizing game pre and post activities. Fan excitement is felt throughout the game and even before as residents try to purchase tickets before they sell out.
“We tried to get tickets the last two games but they were sold out. This time I bought tickets when it was announced they were on sale,” said Johan Hagglund, who came to the game from Roseville with his wife and three kids. “My wife and I are originally from Sweden and we both still love soccer. Right now my three kids all play.”
Hagglund’s comments are typical of many football fanatics who have grown up playing the sport.
The next Republic home game at Hughes Stadium is scheduled against Arizona United SC on June 7. Check the Sacramento Republic FC website at www.sacrepublicfc.com for further news and information.