It’s playoff time in USL which should be a time for supporters and players to relish in the achievements of their club throughout the season and the chance to host games as they chase the Championship. However, this week, USL league officials created a great deal of confusion for all involved with both Sacramento Republic F.C. and Swope Park Rangers.
Swope Park Rangers earned the right to host Sacramento Republic F.C. on September 27, 2017 at home at Children’s Mercy Victory Park. In what can only be described as one of the strangest 24 hours in the history of the league, and without notice to Swope Park Rangers supporters or front office, USL publicly stated that the upcoming game would be moved to Sacramento instead of rightfully being hosted by Swope Park. The explanation given by the league was a vague reference to challenges with the facilities. The only noted challenge that may have affected Children’s Mercy Victory Field for play is the severe weather that caused a delay and eventual postponement of the match against Phoenix Rising F.C. on Saturday, October 21 due to the field being oversaturated at the time. It is important to note, however, that the game resumed on Sunday, October 22 at Children’s Mercy Victory Field without issue. Following the announcement of the match between Swope Park Rangers and Sacramento Republic F.C., Sacramento supporters were instructed to buy home tickets because of the aforementioned challenges regarding the field of play. This left supporters, front offices, and teams on both sides confused as they were trying to prepare for the game and plan travel.
Traveling as a supporter during the playoffs is hard enough with quick turnarounds between games and unknown destinations. This is something that we, as supporters, accept. What cannot be accepted is the deliberate intention of the league to change its own rules and move a rightfully earned match to an opponent’s stadium.
The Independent Supporters Council asks for an immediate explanation of the decisions that led to this unjustifiable move and an apology from USL officials to both clubs’ supporters and players for creating confusion in this attempt to subvert league rules. If USL is to truly be the second division of soccer in the United States, then we must have officials that will take responsibility and admit their mistakes.