SACRAMENTO - When Sacramento Republic Football Club make their home debut Saturday night, between 15,000 and 20,000 people are expected to jam into Hughes Stadium to cheer them on.
Update: Sacramento Republic Football Club announced Friday afternoon it has sold out tickets for Saturday's inaugural game
But despite the media buzz leading up to the game, as well as the expected record crowd and raucous environment, the atmosphere at Thursday's training at Cosumnes River College was one of complete focus.
Both players and coaches admitted to learning of the large numbers forecast for the home opener against Harrisburg, but each insisted their mindset centered on improving to 3-2-1 on the campaign, and not the crowd. The practice session reflected the comments, with a calm emphasis on detail and execution evident around the training ground.
"I'm trying to keep our feet down on the ground because I don't want us to get too crazy and too excited and go in a game gung-ho and start making mistakes all over the field," Head Coach Predrag "Preki" Radosavlijevic said. "Sometimes the nerves can, you know, take care of a lot of things and make things worse. So, we're trying to control everything that we can."
Right back Emrah Klimenta also preached focus and controlling emotion in front of what will likely be a rocking Hughes Stadium. But, he conceded it would be difficult to tune out 20,000 screaming, singing and chanting Sacramentans.
"You just gotta zone that out. You know, focus on the game, focus on the task at hand, just getting that win," Klimenta said. "When you go out there, obviously 20,000 fans cheering for you, you're gonna feel something -- it's gonna be exciting. But you just gotta stay your zone, do your normal routine and focus on the task at hand."
If the game does indeed draw 20,000 people, as Technical Director Graham Smith said is a very likely scenario, the Republic will smash the USL Pro regular-season attendance record of 10,697 held by Orlando City Soccer Club, and obliterate this year's league-wide average of 2,347.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday. For information on Hughes Stadium and tickets, visit the Sacramento Republic FC website.