Those of you who pay attention to such things may have seen Mayor Kevin Johnson's remarks about the Republic's expansion bid at the State of the City last Thursday.
"I'm going to make a prediction that #Sacramento will get an @MLS franchise in 2016," @KJ_MayorJohnson at #sacSOTC— Marcos Breton (@MarcosBreton) January 29, 2016
Whether that prediction ultimately comes true - and it would be awesome if it did - I want to take a look at where the team's bid is presently.
The Republic's expansion bid is now, as it has been for quite some time, the popular choice. The people's choice. Soccer fans all over the country have been calling for Sacramento's inclusion into MLS since their incredible success in 2014, and for good reason.
As both the team and the fans have been saying for a long time now, Sacramento has checked off all the boxes and done everything on paper necessary to be awarded an MLS expansion team.
A dedicated and sizeable fanbase?
With the club holding all sorts of USL attendance records and having near-constant sellouts, let's call that box checked.
A plan for a soccer specific stadium?
Last December the Sacramento city council voted unanimously to approve the preliminary term sheet for Sacramento's proposed MLS stadium. Let's call that one checked.
An ownership group with deep pockets?
With an ownership group that includes the York family and the Sacramento Kings, that box is also checked. Although it should be said that the ownership group put together for the MLS bid is solely for the potential MLS team and are not involved in the current USL team.
Coming from an admittedly biased viewpoint (ICS's tagline does say "a Sacramento Republic FC community," after all), it could be argued that no team in recent memory has put together quite as solid and complete an MLS bid as Sacramento Republic has.
So then why has the bid not been accepted?
Because although Sacramento has long been the popular choice among fans, the ones who make the decision at the end of the day are the MLS owners, who saw Miami as a better place for the final team in the most recent round of expansion. While that may have hurt Republic fans to see, it was a decision that made sense from the perspective of the decision makers. Although Sacramento is a sure thing, Miami is the flashy option. A successful Miami team is simply worth more to MLS than a Sacramento team.
However, just because Sacramento was passed up for team number 24 does not mean that the MLS dream is dead. As most observers expected them to, the owners announced their support for the league to expand beyond 24 teams to 28. With that announcement, the Republic moved into the driver's seat for the next round of expansion.
While Sacramento is pretty clearly the front-runner, it is not entirely clear when the race will end, as there is no timetable set for the next round of expansion. What is clear is that the city of Sacramento is ready whenever MLS is.
The question is now one of timelines. Will the league give Sacramento a chance to come in around 2018, when they could have their shiny Railyards stadium ready? Or will the Republic need to wait until Atlanta, Minnesota, and Miami all have their stadiums in order and their entry dates set to get an invitation to the party?
Frankly, nobody has an answer. Although Kevin Johnson certainly seems confident that we'll be getting one sooner rather than later.
What I do know for sure is that the only thing we can do now is wait, because - in what is quickly becoming one of my least favorite sentences of all time - it is not a matter of if, but a matter of when.