Sacramento will be hoping for one more surprise to win the US Open

Rodrigo Lopez was on the field the night the Sacramento Republic debuted as a USL franchise nearly a decade ago, filling the venerable Old Hughes Stadium. It was an unforgettable night and the start of a magical season that ended with a championship.

This was the first and most significant chapter in the history of professional football in Sacramento. They could top the SAC Republic on Wednesday night when they face MLS side Orlando City in the US Open final, looking to become the second lower-tier side to win the championship in a quarter century.

“This city has always been a football city,” Lopez said…

The SAC Republic’s arrival in the final has been a source of inspiration and revitalization for a football-loving region after a difficult few years. Less than two years ago, Sacramento seemed poised to join the MLS world, likely to become the 29th or 30th team that joins the league.

That all changed 18 months ago when the MLS bid was derailed after lead investor Ron Burkell withdrew from the project. It was an unexpected decision that made Sacramento seem like a lock out of the conversation altogether.