Sacramento Republic announced today that they are continuing their affiliation with the San Jose Earthquakes, an agreement that was first put in place prior to the start of the 2014 season. Indomitable City Soccer caught up with Head Coach and Technical Director Paul Buckle to get his thoughts on the agreement.
Indomitable City Soccer: You became the Republic's head coach in mid-season last year. How was it walking into the team like that and dealing with the relationship already in place between Sacramento and San Jose?
Paul Buckle: "Like I've said on numerous occasions, I've had brilliant relations with Dominic Kinnear. I cannot speak highly enough of Dominic. The minute I became head coach it was important for me to form my own relationship with him and talk about our squads. We had a real healthy discussion.
"I think you saw that come to fruition when we took three players [on loan]. Dominic trusted the way I was wanting to work, the way I was wanting to do things. And that's always the most important thing. You're talking about players coming from his squad to ours, so he needs to know for sure that they're going to get the right treatment, that they're going to be playing in the right style of play."
ICS: How is the relationship between the clubs now?
Buckle: "The relationship is up and running, the relationship is good. I don't foresee that changing in any way, I only see it improving. I went down for a meeting not so long ago to speak with the technical staff at the Quakes and it was an excellent meeting. The relationship is very strong. I'm looking forward to being able to support them, and certainly them being able to support us.
"We spoke with David down there, we spoke with John, we spoke with Chris Leitch, we had a very good meeting. Dominic was away at the time. A good meeting, we shared ideas, I was able to share with them how I see the game, the levels that we're working at in Sacramento from the academy through to the first team.
"We've spoken about trying to help each other with games. Sometimes you're trying to get games for those guys that have not been playing or coming back from injuries, and there might be a chance for us to play each other throughout the season behind closed doors. Things like that are very normal in Europe, where you'll travel and play some real competitive games behind closed doors that are so beneficial to the club. The relationship is moving really in the right direction."
ICS: Those behind the door games certainly sound interesting. It seems like the closeness of the two teams and the two cities definitely helps there.
Buckle: "Oh absolutely. Like I said, those games are worth their weight in gold for both clubs. You're getting 90 minutes into those player's legs. We can always put in some academy boys as well.
"We get a chance to travel down and see how the Quakes are doing things, they've been very open where that's concerned. There's lots of avenues to explore. I'm used to doing this, I'm used to having the relationship with managers, with head coaches. This game is about trying to help each other and support each other. Of course there's always a nice rivalry, but it's a healthy rivalry. We certainly get an opportunity to show our professionalism, when we come up against them in a friendly where again you'll see that I'm sure when both teams come out of that game they'll be a lot better for it."
ICS: Other than those games and the more easily seen benefits like loan players, what are some other things that the club gets out of the relationship?
Buckle: "I just think that it makes total sense to have a great relationship, because we really can help each other at the moment. It's about the Quakes doing well in their league... and us doing the same in ours and supporting each other. Supporting each other in a professional way.
"Certainly with the games, for example. If we can arrange some behind closed doors training games, I can get a real chance to look at some of the chaps that maybe need to go out on loan. And also like I said, when you host an MLS club, we do it right in Sacramento... Graham, the Director of Football, prides himself on making sure that everything is done in the right way and I think that's good for us."
ICS: You mentioned looking at players that may need to go out on loan. Has there been any discussion between you and Kinnear about potential loan players?
Buckle: "You know, I'll never be mentioning any names... even if we had any names we wouldn't do that. We both have a duty to our players to give them a chance in preseason and I know Dominic wants to do that with his team. Once we get preseason out of the way, unless I get a call from Dominic telling me that one or two are available, I don't foresee that in the near future.
"At the moment I'm very happy with the squad we're putting together. We want that to gel, we want that to start to work and give those players an opportunity before we start adding too many players. There's lots of ways the relationship could work. We're starting the relationship at the start of preseason, we're playing against each other, we're talking about how we can improve the relationship and help each other.
"Ultimately this really becomes a good relationship once the season starts because once Dominic's team settles down, like any team settles down, there might be an opportunity for a player or two to come out on loan. If we get injuries or we get suspensions, that's when you can call on the loan system. But then there might be an opportunity where we can take a player and develop him - that's going to be good enough to get in our team. I'll never bring a player to the club that I don't feel can improve us and that's important."