The San Jose Earthquakes announced Wednesday that they have opted to renew their affiliation with Sacramento Republic FC for the 2016 season, extending a partnership which has been in existence with the United Soccer League club since its inaugural season in 2014.
The marriage allows for both teams to continue fostering their developments on the field — in 2015, the Quakes loaned Tommy Thompson, JJ Koval and Mark Sherrod to the Republic during their regular season home stretch. The trio made nine combined appearances, adding a pair of goals and assists along the way.
The Republic, a team which 49ers CEO Jed York has a vested interest in, believe their expansion into Major League Soccer could be just around the corner. Last December, commissioner Don Garber announced the league's intent to expand to 28 teams, which would hypothetically clear the path of expansion for the Republic. Sacramento is already considered as one of the leading candidates in the expansion efforts, given they've already met all the league-requirements, and received an endorsement from Garber himself.
"I think Sacramento will be very high on our list of next clubs to come into the league," Garber said last month during his state of the league address. "Now, we're going to continue to monitor what goes on there, we'll play close attention to how they continue to develop their USL team, but I want to applaud the city for what they've done to support the Republic's desire to be in our league."
The ownership group carries a couple of California's sports heavy hitters — Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive is an investor, along with York. The team has played its games at Bonney Field, and is beginning to run out of space; the Republic are the only USL team that has averaged five-figure attendance numbers. The Sacramento City Council has already approved plans for the team's new stadium, which will be built at the city's railroad yard.
The Quakes and Republic will also meet, for a third consecutive year, to play a preseason match, at Bonney Field, on Feb. 20.