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Cincinnati beats out Sacramento, will join MLS in 2019

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Where does this leave us Sacramento and our bid?

Joe de Ocampo/Indomitable City Soccer

It’s been 24 hours since MLS announced that Cincinnati will join the league and start play in 2019, and even though we knew it was coming, the level of resentment, anger, disappointment in various directions (MLS, our ownership group, Don Garber) is palpable in our city today. The grey and gloomy sky earlier this morning seemed only fitting to how our city felt waking up this morning.

I suppose that’s to be expected, right? After all, it seemed like only yesterday that Sacramento was the front runner in this multi-city race to join MLS, but then issues with our bid started to surface. There was the disagreement over the sale of the team from Warren Smith to Kevin Nagle, investors dropping out in the eleventh hour, reports that MLS preferred a more private/public partnership, and the ultimate need for a financially stronger ownership group. Is that all? I probably missed something.

The point is, while we can all agree deals like these are super complicated and nuanced, maybe we all bought into MLS to Sacramento too much and too quickly? Whether you see MLS as an opportunity to land another professional sports franchise for the city, an opportunity to develop the railyards, or just your love for the Club and the game, maybe we just all needed to be more measured and realistic?

Republic FC are certainly at fault to some degree too. As my friend and season ticket holder put it to me last night, when you sell season tickets while dangling priority seating when MLS comes knocking soon, you certainly raise expectations with your fans and community. I don’t fault the Republic for doing that, because I can’t imagine they guessed this is how it all would play out, and it’s a business after all, but it definitely needs to be acknowledged.

But this is not about pointing fingers. I don’t want to go down that dark path, because it’s a waste of time and there’s nothing to gain from it. I am more interested in where we’re going to go from here. So, where do we go Sacramento?

Well, what we do know is that Sacramento still has a reasonable shot to join MLS, whether we’re the 27th or 28th team. Yes, I said it. We’re still in this thing folks. I do believe our ownership group when they say they are feverishly working to make it happen, and if we don’t eventually get there, we still have this incredible club. That should mean something to everyone.

On that point, there were some comments floating around social media yesterday that with Cincinnati joining MLS, Republic FC will essentially throw in the towel on the bid AND growing the club in the USL. So I reached out to the Republic and asked them if Nagle plans to operate a USL side should they not make it to MLS. A Republic spokesperson immediately responded back to me and said, “Absolutely…Republic will be around no matter what.” I know yesterday was an emotional day, but let’s put that rumor to rest.

I’ll also say this. Now is not the time for us to become apathetic. There’s literally nothing worse that we could do for the club and city. Sure, it’s totally acceptable to be upset. We should be. But let’s get it out and move forward. We’re better than that.

I really appreciated what Daniel Tyree said on Twitter yesterday. The perspective is important and agree with what should be the focus — the Sacramento Republic FC, all that we’ve built over the last four years, and the relationships we’ve developed.

Hey, I get it if it’s not enough for some of you. But I hold out hope that we will one day reach MLS, and we’ll have that much more satisfaction knowing that we did it the right way.

So what do you say Sacramento? Are we going sit back and play the victim, point fingers, complain that we created the blueprint for everyone else, are being used by MLS to drive up more lucrative offers, or are we going to double down on our efforts? If fighting for the Sacramento Kings taught our great city and people anything, it was this. We don’t give up. We fight like hell.

I don’t know about you, but yesterday’s news out of Cincinnati doesn’t change a darn thing for me. A setback? Absolutely. But end game for Sacramento...no way.

Starting now, let’s continue that fight Sacramento. Glory, Glory Sacramento.