The San Jose Earthquakes announced their new USL affiliation with Reno 1868 FC, which will begin in 2017. The move is a win for both teams, and for soccer.
Reno 1868 FC Affiliation a Win for All Involved
Ironically, Sacramento may benefit the most from this move. San Jose’s current USL affiliate is Sacramento Republic FC. Sacramento is a team #BuiltForMLS, and anxiously expecting an announcement by commissioner Don Garber about their expansion into the league. San Jose’s cutting ties with Sacramento strengthens the city’s bid into MLS. Sacramento has the stadium site, the funding, and the voter approval. Now they have the “no strings” Nor-Cal rivalry as there will no longer be any affiliation between Sacramento and San Jose. In fact, Reno will probably be Sacramento’s newest rival in 2017, setting up the I-80 derby, of which San Jose will be an indirect part. Get ready for some road trips, Quakes and SRFC fans!
San Jose also reaps huge dividends from a Reno affiliation. Reno 1868 FC allows San Jose to have complete control over soccer operations. Sacramento is an independent team, and coaches could use their discretion about when and how to play Quakes players. With San Jose able to call all the shots, players can be developed to fit the needs of San Jose. This also sets up a coaching line in which more coaches from San Jose’s development system can gain experience and possibly move up within the organization. Finally, laying the groundwork in Reno sets up a seamless transition once the Quakes academy complex in San Jose is built.
Reno receives the benefits of a professional soccer team in a growing metropolitan area. The city of Reno is growing, with companies such as Tesla and Amazon laying foundations in the Biggest Little City. Yet the Reno-Sparks area, which already has a population over 426,000 people, has only one bona fide professional sports team: the Triple-A Diamondbacks affiliate Reno Aces. Given the large population and absence of professional sports, soccer should thrive in Reno. This makes the city an even more attractive place for people to settle down. And as the Reno 1868 FC fanbase grows, so does the soccer fanbase in the United States.
The only potential downside is distance. Reno is a four hour drive from San Jose, which prevents Quakes fans from seeing the Reno investment firsthand. However, it is a small price to pay for a situation in which Sacramento, Reno, and San Jose all receive a huge boon their cities and clubs.
Welcome to the USL, Reno 1868 FC!