Working Title: Republic Time Vault
LA Galaxy II 1 - Sacramento Republic FC 1
Stub Hub Center Track and Field
Sacramento Goalscorers: Justin Braun (33)
LA Goalscorers: Chandler Hoffman (81)
Welcome to the first in at least a one-part series taking a look back on important games in the history of Sacramento Republic FC. As always, if people read these, I will keep writing them. And if people don't, maybe I'll find some other hobbies.
Today, we're taking a look at the first-ever Republic game, a 1-1 away draw at LA Galaxy II. You can find a match recap of this game here and a highlight video that is 23 minutes long for some reason here.
Club captain Justin Braun, an MLS veteran, scored the first goal in Republic history in the first half, while Chandler Hoffman, the third-leading scorer in the league that year, equalized late.
For this series, I plan to share parts of my old stories, photos, and videos to help paint a picture of what happened both in and around the game. But the photos on my phone only go back until 2015 and I can't search my Twitter media past 2016 so I relied on some outside sources, which I may do again.
The above photo is courtesy of Brent Sasaki, one of the many team employees who made the trip down to LA.
Sacramento: Jake Gleeson, Nemanja Vuković, Mickey Daly, Harrison Delbridge, Emrah Klimenta, Ivan Mirković (Chad Bond 77), Octavio Guzman (Aaron Long 82), Max Alvarez, Mike Fucito (Jack Avesyan 73), Rodrigo Lopez (Thomas Stewart 84), Justin Braun.
LA: Brian Rowe, Oscar Sorto, Daniel Steres (Kofi Opare 73), Tommy Meyer, Logan Emory (Eder Arreola 88), Aleksandar Doković (Alejandro Covarrubias 60), Rafael Garcia (Bradford Jamieson IV 79), Kenney Walker, Raul Mendiola, Charlie Rugg (Chandler Hoffman 55), Jack McBean.
The game was, I don't know, fine. It looked like an expansion team playing an MLS reserve team, which is exactly what it was. Braun's goal was nothing special, but it was a first for the club.
I don't really have much to add regarding actual game play because I was on assignment with The Sacramento Bee to tell the story of the Tower Bridge Battalion, which you can read here.
I think Preki probably even agreed with my statement that the game was just fine because here was his postgame quote: “I thought on a better day we walk away with the three points. There is still a lot of room for improvement and I know that as the season goes we will get better and better.”
Added San Jose Earthquakes loanee Mike Fucito: “I thought it was a good showing. I think we can play a lot better and I think that is good.”
The Tower Bridge Battalion
The above tweet belongs to Casey. Casey is a Sac Republic fan who used to wear the Workaholics bear suit to every single game. Casey was one of probably about 50 Tower Bridge Battalion members who made their way down to the first-ever game.
While I was there to talk to a few members during an initial tifo painting, I made the decision to travel with the team on a bus last minute. The ride down I-5 was long and boring and probably the only memory I have of it is that when I was interviewing then Battalion president RJ Cooper while we were crossing the grapevine, he told me that this was like a "descent into hell."
While waiting to get on the bus to the game following the initial bus ride, Casey and I were outside of a hotel when a woman approached us and asked us what we were doing in LA. We told her that we were there for a professional soccer game. She asked us if we were on the team. Casey and I just looked at each other then looked at our beer bellies.
Before the game, I was skeptical that Sacramento would be able to support a lower division soccer team. I don't really know what this was based on, but I sent out a series of tweets asking if it would be supported and didn't hear much back.
By game time, when the 50 Republic fans were joined by another handful of Republic staffers, I was convinced. We were even joined for some reason by Angel Mendoza (pictured below right), who was then the president of the Chivas USA supporter's group Black Army.
All I remember about Mendoza from that game was that he kept flipping off LA Galaxy mascot Cozmo and telling him to "fuck off." Soccer is fun.
Oh, and Casey was eventually allowed to wear his bear suit in. Also there was a guy whose name I forget who brewed his own keg of beer to bring on the bus.
He called it "Fuck LAle."
The Stream that Wasn't
What I had forgotten about this game was that apparently until pretty far in, the stream of the match didn't work.
I don't know what the league rules are now, but back then, every home team was in charge of setting up their own broadcast and then streaming them live to YouTube.
For whatever reason, the LA Galaxy II broadcast didn't work for this game, which could have been a huge blow to the Republic, who had set up watch parties all across Sacramento to help generate fan interest.
I'll let then Republic vice president and co-founder Joe Wagoner, who was also at the game, explain the rest:
"(Club vice president of communications Erika Bjork) and Sasaki spent weeks/months setting up watch parties and we spent days testing and confirming with LA that the live stream would work," Wagoner told me yesterday. "We were singing in the stands with TBB when I got the first call saying that the stream wasn't working and that Sacramento bars were changing channels away from the match.
"I ran to the LA control room and calmly/politely shared the news," he said. "They didn't seem to be overly concerned. My memory is fuzzy about what happened next."
And this next part is what makes Joe...well...Joe.
"The nice guy in mean wants to believe that we joyfully worked together to solve the challenge and then high-fived," he said. "However, if witness accounts are accurate, I apparently lost my motherfuggn mind, threatened them and all of their current and future family members and swore I wouldn't rest until each of them regretted the day they dropped the ball on the most important event in the history of the world."
I asked Joe if they ever got the stream working. He thinks they did, but I have no idea because I was at the game trying to calm down a freelance photographer from The Bee, who got really mad at me because TBB didn't want to stay on the bus to pose for a photo.
Apparently it was my job to get them to stay on the bus, but I wasn't about to deprive any of those 50 fans of the opportunity to get to the stadium as soon as possible. She did send me that photo of Angel and me, though. So there's that.
Republic Legend...Aaron Long?
True story: up until last night, I had no idea that USMNT defender Aaron Long played for Sacramento.
I was reminded by Sasaki on Twitter, also last night:
Looking at the game recap, it appears as if Long, then a midfielder, made his professional debut in that Republic game, coming on for Octavio Guzman.
He would play 99 minutes for the Republic before returning to the Portland Timbers. One of the parts that I'm most interested in looking back on these games for is to see what players from these past lineups ended up having big careers.
Obviously Rodrigo Lopez would go on to have an excellent year for Sacramento and become the club's best-ever player, but it's strange that out of all of these LA Galaxy kids and Republic mainstays that the most successful player to come out of this game was some random on loan kid who would end up being offered a $500,000 loan deal by West Ham with a $4.5 million option to buy.
I guess it just shows that players aren't done developing when they're 22.
That's all from me from this game. If you like the series, I'd love to hear from you about which games you'd like to see me look back on. You can send your troll or real tweets to @EvanReam or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.