SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — When looking for one of the best soccer cities in the country, look no further than Sacramento, home of the Republic FC, according to a new study.
The capital of the Golden State was named the second-best city that has a club in the United Soccer League, according to a report from Wallethub, a personal finance website. The Republic FC is one of 27 clubs in the USL.
The top soccer city with a club in the USL is Louisville, Kentucky, which is home to Louisville City FC. Seaside, home of the Monterey Bay FC, is another California city with a USL club and it was ranked sixth.
To determine the top cities for soccer fandom, WalletHub said it compared 294 American cities with at least one college or professional club across five divisions. The American soccer divisions used for the study were the MLS, National Women’s Soccer League, the USL, men’s college soccer, and woman’s college soccer.
“We surveyed the top performing five teams in each division’s Facebook account, summed the number of ‘likes’ and calculated the proportion that each league represented in total,” WalletHub said in its study. “The weight attributed to each division is therefore based on its popularity.”
The methodology used in the study also ranked the cities based on population size, which were labeled as large cities (more than 300,000 people), midsize cities (100,000 to 300,000 people), and small cities (fewer than 100,000 people). Sacramento was in the large city category.
Other California cities in the USL rankings were Irvine (No. 8), Los Angeles (No. 23), Oakland (No. 24), and San Diego (No. 26).
Overall, Sacramento was ranked as the 33rd-best soccer city in the United States. Los Angeles is ranked the top overall soccer city, as it has two MLS clubs — the LA Galaxy and the Los Angeles FC. Los Angeles is home to the LA Galaxy II in the USL.
The Sacramento Republic FC has garnered strong support from the city since it begin playing as a USL Pro expansion team in 2014. The club has competed in the playoffs in eight of the nine past seasons.
The club’s fanbase includes the Tower Bridge Battalion, a group of supporters who sit behind the north goal of Heart Health Park. The Tower Bridge Battalion was founded in 2013 and became an independent supporters union in 2020, according to the TBB website.
The community’s support for the club was a catalyst in the Republic FC getting a bid for the MLS. Sacramento was announced as the MLS’s 29th team, originally slated to start in 2022, but was later pushed back to 2023 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Republic FC’s bid to the MLS fell apart months after losing lead investor Ron Burkle backed out of the deal in 2021.
Despite losing out on its bid to the MLS, the support has stayed strong for the club and there are plans to build a permanent stadium at the Railyards.
The 2022 season for the Republic FC ended after they were eliminated from the USL Championship playoffs on Oct. 29. The club fell 2-1 to the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC on the road in the Western Conference semifinal round.
The 2022 season was a memorable one for fans in Sacramento including the Republic FC’s finals run to the U.S. Open Cup. The Republic FC fell 3-0 to the Orlando City SC in the finals of the tournament on Sept. 7.
The Republic FC was 15-11-8 at the end of the regular season.