In what can only be described as a mid-season jolt to a club that has struggled of late, Sacramento Republic FC announced this afternoon that they have reacquired Emrah Klimenta, who is a fan favorite and one of the club’s best players in franchise history.
As fans know, Klimenta earned an MLS contract with LA Galaxy in the off-season, but was released by the Galaxy on June 13.
We caught up with him following today’s press conference at Republic FC headquarters. Below is a transcript of our interview.
Welcome back. Give me your thoughts on being back in Sacramento.
Thank you. I’m ready to get started again. Obviously, I was gone for five or six months, but I’m very happy to be back. It feels right. I’m at home. I spent four years here, obviously left for a good opportunity. Things don’t pan out sometimes the way you want them to, but it’s good to be back.
I’ve been welcomed with nothing but love and you can’t beat that.
Talk about your experience with the Galaxy. Do you feel like you got a fair shot?
There’s definitely a lot of internal things going on outside of soccer type of stuff there, but I didn’t get a proper chance, and I’ve expressed that on multiple occasions. I had the backing of a lot of the players, but sometimes in sports things go south. Whether that’s with the results or this or that.
I wasn’t given a proper shot, and I think that if I did, I would have showed what I’m capable of doing. To not play for so long, and finally getting a shot and doing well in two games where [we posted] two shutouts, but then to be completely pushed off to the side again, something was happening. For what reason, maybe I’ll never know.
I definitely wish I had a better chance, but things happen for a reason. Maybe it needed to happen for me to end up back here.
On a more positive note, do you think you’ll be able to use your experience with the Galaxy moving forward in Sacramento?
Of course. They’ve got top players there. Like a Zlatan Ibrahimovic coming in...being able to learn from him. He would post up against me, telling me what I should be doing. Ashley Cole...I learned a lot from him. He was my mentor. I would ask him questions on things like positioning.
I definitely learned a lot. Gained a lot of experience and just want to bring it back here. Like I said at the press conference, I want to help the younger guys. I’m going to be one of the older guys on the team and [I want to] use my experience and leadership to pass it on to the rest of the team. I want to help in any way that I can.
Fans are obviously going to love that you’re back. What’s it like coming back to play in front of supporters that love you and look at you as arguably the best player in franchise history?
It feels great. The intimacy with the fans and players, and the city and the team in general is something that you can’t beat. Obviously in Los Angeles, there’s a lot of other sports teams and sometimes soccer is overshadowed.
But being able to come back to that intimacy with the fans...and knowing that they enjoy watching you play, whether you win or lose, they’ll still be there week in and week out. Getting back to Papa Murphy’s Park and seeing the fans and interacting with them...there’s no place like it, just because everywhere else, it’s strictly sports. They lose, whatever, they win...oh yay. But there’s no interaction.
In my six months being away from here, and previously being at other clubs, I’ve noticed that, and that’s a huge difference between Sacramento Republic and a lot of other teams.
Do you anticipate suiting up on Saturday? If you’ve watched the last few weeks, the club has struggled a bit.
I’ve watched highlights of every single game, and probably have watched half of the games. Yeah, the last couple of games, obviously there’s been some mental errors that need to be cleaned up. It was addressed at practice today and will be the rest of this week.
As far as suiting up, I’m always ready to suit up. You’ll never hear me say no. Like Simon mentioned, it’s still early in the week to know what’s going to happen, but we have three more days of practice.
I feel good. It was good to get the cobwebs out of my legs today. I drove up from L.A. yesterday, so I’m ready to step in whenever and wherever and will do everything I can to help this team out. Defensively though, I think we definitely need to pick it up.
We create so many chances offensively, because we have so many creative players. We have good attackers. The one missing thing is solidifying our defense, and I’m hoping to help with that [so we] can get on the right track again.
We’d like to thank Emrah for his time and welcome him back to Sacramento. Do you think he will suit up Saturday? Sound off in the comments section below!