According to the sources, the Republic were training at a public field on Monday when, they say, they spotted a man — whom they later identified as an Orlando staffer — watching. One source said the man was on his phone, consistently taking notes, stepping away to take phone calls, and coming back to take more notes.
Sacramento, per the sources, alleges that it asked the man to move to another area of the park, but he wouldn't. ESPN and The Athletic reported that, despite multiple attempts by the Republic to get him to leave, he refused to for 30-45 minutes.
More on the city that's been trying to get an MLS team for years:
After years of singing and chanting, of fortitude and faith, and of growing angst as MLS expanded elsewhere, the lead investor — “the final stroke,” as [the MLS commissioner] called it — finally arrived. [A billionaire] came with cash, so MLS came to the Californian capital, and on Oct. 21, 2019, [the commissioner] announced Sacramento as the league’s 29th team. Up in a balcony, at a downtown celebration, flags flew and Republic fans roared. This, they knew, was their ladder up the American soccer pyramid. What they didn’t know, at the time, was how easily it could be pulled away.
The Republic kept plugging along toward MLS, its eyes on a 2022 start date. But in 2021, [the billionaire] backed out of the deal; so MLS backed out of Sacramento; and the Republic spiraled.
But in 2022, it channeled a slogan championed by the last great American soccer underdog: “If you can’t join ‘em, beat ‘em!”
The Republic ousted the San Jose Earthquakes, and then the LA Galaxy, which pays one player more than Sacramento pays its entire roster. It toppled Sporting Kansas City in a semifinal penalty shootout that brought players to tears and fans spilling onto the field.
It will meet Orlando City, a fourth straight MLS team, in Wednesday’s Open Cup final (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+)