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Soccer Championship Fever Hits Sacramento

Al Gibes / Capital Public Radio

Bonney Stadium is the new home for Sacramento Republic FC. All matches played at the 8,000 seat stadium have been sell-outs.

Al Gibes / Capital Public Radio

Tomorrow night, the Sacramento Republic F-C soccer team will play for the USL PRO championship at Bonney Field. A win would mean a storybook ending to a season that has exceeded expectations in almost every way.

For a first-year team in the USL PRO league -a Major League Soccer feeder league- Sacramento Republic FC has impressed. The team set single-game and season-attendance records, made the playoffs by finishing  third in a 13-team league and will now play for the USL PRO championship. Today, Preki was named coach of the year. Nemanja Vukovic was named defender of the year.

Erika Bjork with Republic FC says the team and the season have exceeded expectations.

"It's been a whirlwind of a week. We're very excited. I think several months ago, we never thought we'd be in this position of hosting the championship. We always new our guys had the capabilities to advance on and be playing in it."

The game is sold out and team merchandise is increasingly popular.  Jack Beebe was at the team's headquarters in Sacramento this week picking up Republic FC hats for his nephews and a shirt for his brother all the way on the east coast.

"With the zillions of kids I see playing everywhere, I'm thrilled to see it taking hold here and giving sort of a professional feel to it here locally," Beebe said.

The team gave away a ticket to each of its 6,000 season ticket holders and sponsors.

Anabel Garcia works for a business partner of the club and picked up her tickets Thursday.  She's excited to go to the game.

"I went in and told my boss, I said, 'I don't care about anything else, but I need those tickets.' I said, 'You know, if I have to beg I will, but don't make me do it," Garcia said.

The team had only 2,000 tickets available for non-season-ticket-holders. They sold out almost immediately.

Team ownership is looking at the possibilities of increasing the number of seats at Bonney Field by 2,000 for next season.  

The club is also in the running to be a Major League Soccer expansion team and has preliminary plans to build a new stadium at the Railyards.

The team hosted representatives from MLS last week.  One representative stayed behind and will attend Saturday night's game.  The league says it will continue talks with the team and the City of Sacramento has Republic FC's push to be an MLS club continues.