SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Though it came with a fair bit of frustration, Sacramento Republic's long bid to earn an MLS expansion side came with a few inherent benefits.
Off the field, the club holds community roots, making the bond between city and club strong long before they play their first MLS match in 2022. On the field, time has given them one huge benefit: Ample time for the academy to progress.
While recent expansion clubs like LAFC and FC Cincinnati are waiting for their academies to mature, and Inter Miami and Nashville SC just launched theirs this year, Sacramento's has been up and running since 2015.
“There’s no question that’s going to be part of our philosophy," Republic general manager Todd Dunivant told MLSsoccer.com. "We have a great talent base here in the Sacramento region. There are players we’re eying for Homegrown talent. We’re going to use these next two years to showcase these guys and get them ready for MLS.”
Obviously, academy talent is just one slice of constructing the roster. Alongside the stars of tomorrow, Republic will use their remaining two seasons in the USL Championship to look at a number of players with potential to join the MLS roster.
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“Honestly, we’ve been building for this even two years ago," Dunivant said. "We started to build our USL team to get as many players as possible with MLS potential. We know not everybody is going to make it, [but] we certainly think we can build a culture and bring some of that with the players."
Dunivant didn't get into how much the club will spend on players as they eventually build their inaugural roster for 2022.
“Too early for budget talk, we’re here to celebrate," Dunivant said. "But ownership doesn’t put $200 million in for an expansion fee and build a nine-figure stadium [for nothing.] There’s a lot of investment into this team and club. It’s going to do this city proud.”
The timeline for what comes next on the sporting side isn't yet clear. They're focusing on building their brand-new stadium, which will be ready for the club's first season in the league. Then, more decisions will be made on the technical side, be it the coaching staff or front office.
“We want to take the time that we have now to build this club the right way," president and COO Ben Gumpert said. "Of course, all of our staff, including the on the soccer operation side, are quintessential to that. We’re going to take time to build on what we have, but it’s certainly going to get bigger. We’ll look at coaches, technical side, every aspect so we’re ready to go.”
“Everyone in this organization is looking towards MLS, I certainly count myself in that," Dunivant added.