Bend it like Sacramento: I believe Republic FC will win the USL championship
An ominous sky embellished with flashes of blood-red clouds blanketed the field at Saturday night's Sacramento Republic FC soccer match. Perhaps it looked this way because of the King fire? Or maybe the lightning storm, which bared its teeth during the first half? Either way, Instagrams depicting the weather were more popular than the match itself at Cal Expo. The team was losing. In the playoffs. To its big rival in Los Angeles. Two to zero. A blowout.
But then came the rain. Not a downpour, but enough to make the crowd stand and cheer. Rain, holy crap! This was about 60 minutes into the semifinal against Galaxy II. The winner would go on to the USL championship. High stakes.
And seemingly just as it began to rain, the Republic began scoring. First, a penalty kick in the 64th minute. And then another, an equalizer. The match was tied with minutes remaining. The Tower Bridge Battalion—the Republic's most die-hard fans—banged drums, waved flags and stomped feet. What a comeback.
In the final stoppage minutes, Rodrigo Lopez was awarded a free kick. It shot off his foot, bent over the keeper's outstretched glove and splashed into the net. We won, holy crap! Players sprinted toward the stands, incredulous. When the final whistle blew, they hopped a fence and high-fived the still-cheering fans. Unbelievable.
What a wild outcome—and one that just might mirror the fate of pro soccer in Sacramento. Out of nowhere, this city appears poised to seduce the MLS into letting us have an expansion team. Rich guys are going to build a stadium without public money. And now, the Republic just might take it all at this Saturday's championship.
Hey, Sacramento: I believe that we will win. I believe that we will win.