SACRAMENTO, Calif. — It didn't take long for Sacramento Republic to fire a few friendly, good-natured shots in the direction of the San Jose Earthquakes, LA Galaxy and LAFC, the three other MLS teams in California.
It wasn't just the Republic's ultras or anyone involved at the club, either. It came straight from the mayor's office. Actually, it was more personal than that. A mayoral text.
"I know that being humble is important," Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg began his remarks Monday after his city was officially awarded an MLS expansion side, "but this morning I texted Mayor Sam Liccardo in San Jose and Mayor Eric Garcetti in Los Angeles expressing my condolences on becoming the second-best MLS teams in California. Let the rivalries begin."
It wasn't just the mayor, of course. Republic president and COO Ben Gumpert, VP of community investment Scott Moak and academy manager Jeremy Field all told MLSsoccer.com that they had their eyes set on the Earthquakes. The fans echoed that, too, but didn't stop there during their celebrations on Monday.
During the announcement event, fans reflexively booed any mention of El Trafico, and then erupted into a vociferous chant of "Beat LA!" Again, they didn't stop there.
Sacramento mayor ignites rivalry with LA, San Jose as Republic join MLS
"I'm from Chicago, so I'm most looking forward to beating the Chicago Fire," said one Republic fan, Mason, at the club's Block Party. "LA Galaxy? Zlatan's going down. We like the big targets. San Jose isn't even a challenge."
It's all in good fun. More fans at the Block Party wanted to face all comers, looking forward to traveling to different cities across the country following the Republic.
It's already a two-way street, as the Quakes planted one of their team scarves behind enemy lines as Sacramento celebrated on Monday.
The Quakes and Republic have already played in the U.S. Open Cup, coming together this year for a memorable 4-3 San Jose victory. Those will only continue to build should the teams see each other ahead of that initial MLS clash in 2022.
"Oh, I've just been teasing on texts, you know what I mean?" Mayor Steinberg said. "You've got to have fun. You've got to stoke the rivalry. It'll be good for them and good for us. Let's start some friendly rivalries. I'm sure we'll have some bets. This is a business, but it should be fun."