Sacramento Republic FC players and staff greeted thousands of cheering fans on Friday, at their Championship parade.
Thousands of people stood between 4th Street and the Capitol lawn along Capitol Mall to praise the athletes who brought home the trophy in their first year as a professional soccer team.
Many fans wore uniforms, and took photos with star players who rode in on Fire trucks. The celebration continued on the Capitol lawn, where Mayor Kevin Johnson, Republic FC President Warren Smith, team staff and players spoke in front of fans.
“I knew we were going to be a good team, and we were going to be a competitive team, but I wasn’t sure we were going to get here,” head coach Predrag Radosavljevic said. “But I give all my guys all the credit, all the fans, who supported throughout the year, you’ve been unbelievable.
“When we came on the field day one, I don’t think any of us players expected the support they did,” forward Justin Braun said. “They brought it all year, and a lot of credit goes to them for us getting the championship. Without them, we wouldn’t be here.”
Lucas Summers, 11, has been a soccer player for seven years. He and his family bought season tickets at Bonney Field to support their team. Today, he got to meet the players up close.
“I want to greet them and meet them,” Summers said. “I want to become a pro soccer player.”
Winning the championship was a dream come true for goalie, Dominik Jakubek. The player from Lodi was instrumental in helping the team win the championship. He also thanked local fans for their loyal support.
“We love them back,” Jakubek said. “This is amazing. I am from this area, so I grew up with all these people, so I love it. This is like a dream come true. We’re just trying to do bigger and better things. MLS, here we come!”
Many fans also showed their support for the team upgrading to MLS.
“We won a championship, we had a parade, I want us to get used to this,” Mayor Johnson said. “The last time this happened, was with the Monarchs!”
Nine years ago the Monarchs won the WNBA championships, and since, the city has not won a major sporting title. Now that the spotlight is back on Sacramento, team officials are really hoping to appeal to the MLS.
“The rest of the country is looking at us. and they’re taking notes so i tink we will get there because the community is stepping up,” Smith said.
“I hope MLS comes,” fan Cynthia Forney said. “We’re going to have a soccer team. What else could we want?
“Sacramento is the place they need to come,” Nancy Valley of the Sacramento Valley women’s Soccer League said. “We have the fan support, we have the basis, we have plans for an arena, we have everything going for us, they have to see that very clearly and make the right choice.”
The team still has a lot of planning to do, but they are optimistic about their MLS goal.
“We’ve got a lot of owners that we are announcing next week, and frankly they’re not going to be able to say no to that,” Smith said.