With Republic FC expected to join MLS, who will be their primary rival? A guide on who to boo
Republic FC is expected to join Major League Soccer, with a formal announcement set for Monday.
Sacramento - in its sixth year in the United Soccer League, including a championship in the team's inaugural season of 2014 - won't play a minute as an MLS side for a few years, but it may already have an established rivalry in the United States' top soccer league.
The league, which has 24 teams now and three more scheduled to begin play by 2021, has continued to expand since first kicking off in 1996.
With Sacramento being added to the list, one question fans will want to know: Who will be Republic FC's rival? Here's a look at top candidates:
Obvious choice: San Jose Earthquakes
Republic FC has history against the Earthquakes, a team that plays about two hours southwest of Sacramento.
The squads have met six times, including thrice in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, with another scheduled meeting canceled due to weather.
Republic FC has yet to defeat San Jose. All except one of the matches were close, with one decided by penalty kicks.
The most recent match was June 11, when Sacramento lost 4-3 at Avaya Stadium in a fourth-round Open Cup match.
The familiarity between the organizations goes beyond the pitch. Republic FC's first three seasons included an affiliation with the Earthquakes, but San Jose dissolved the partnership because of Sacramento's run at joining MLS.
Easy to hate: Los Angeles Football Club
There are plenty of Sacramento-area sports fans who already dislike at least two teams in the L.A. region.
There are scores of San Francisco Giants fans around this city who can't stand the Dodgers, as the MLB teams have formed one of sports' fiercest rivalries.
Also, most Kings fans can't stand the Lakers, although that rivalry has been pretty one-sided in favor of the Southern California NBA team.
Republic FC vs. LAFC could give sports fans on opposite ends of the state another reason to root against each other.
The teams have met twice. Los Angeles beat Republic FC 1-0 at Papa Murphy's Park in a February 2018 preseason friendly during LAFC's first season. The sides met again about four months later, this time in the Open Cup, with LAFC knocking Sacramento out with a 3-2 fifth-round victory.
Pitting Republic FC against LAFC seems like a better call than doing so against the Galaxy, one of 10 original MLS teams and owners of a league-leading five championships.
There are three other MLS sides along the West Coast: Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps.
None of the squads seem like a natural opponent for Sacramento to build a rivalry against.
Portland and Seattle have had a heated rivalry of their own since 2011, when the Timbers began play. As for the Whitecaps, one of three Canadian teams, the nearly-900-mile distance isn't ideal for forming a longstanding and recurring battle between two clubs. Plus, Vancouver was named Canada's unhappiest city last year, so we don't need to pile on.
Noel Harris is a sports reporter for The Sacramento Bee, with a focus on the Kings. He's been in professional journalism for more than 18 years. His roles have included sports editor at The Modesto Bee and news editor at two smaller California newspapers, as well as online producer and copy editor.
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