Report: Republic File Complaint over Alleged Orlando City SC Spy at Training Session

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 7, 2022

AP Photo/John Raoux

USL Championship soccer club the Sacramento Republic FC have alleged that a staffer from MLS club Orlando City SC spied on their practice session Monday.

According to ESPN's Jeff Carlisle, a Republic equipment manager noticed the Orlando City staffer as someone who worked for Orlando manager Óscar Pareja, and he was asked to leave the premises multiple times but refused for between 30 and 45 minutes because he said he was there to meet a friend.

During the training session, which occurred at Central Winds Park in Winter Springs, Florida, members of the Republic staff reportedly moved two vans in front of the Orlando staffer in order to block his vision, but the staffer moved before ultimately leaving.

The alleged incident took place just days before Sacramento and Orlando were scheduled to meet in the final of the U.S. Open Cup tournament in Orlando on Wednesday.

A United States Soccer Federation spokesperson said the governing body is "looking into" the situation, and confirmed that a USSF film crew caught the incident on camera.

Meanwhile, Orlando City released a statement, noting that "the club has been made aware of the matter regarding Sacramento's training session and is cooperating with U.S. Soccer."

An Orlando City source told Carlisle that the staffer didn't report back to the club with any information on the practice and that there was "no coordinated effort" for the staffer to attend the practice.

It is unclear if the Orlando staffer could face any discipline since the USSF's Open Cup Open Division Handbook doesn't specifically state that what occurred was illegal, especially since the practice occurred at a public park when Sacramento declined to practice at Orlando's training facility in hopes of finding a more private location.

The handbook does give Sacramento the right to file a complaint, at which point it would be up to the USSF to determine a punishment for Orlando if any.

Not surprisingly, the U.S. Open Cup has largely been dominated by MLS clubs over the years since it is the top division of soccer in the United States.

MLS teams first entered the tournament in 1996, and an MLS team has won the tourney every year since 2000. The last non-MLS club to win the U.S. Open Cup was the Rochester Rhinos of the now-defunct A-League in 1999, as they defeated MLS club the Colorado Rapids in the final.

Sacramento has accomplished a great deal already, becoming the first non-MLS team to reach the finals of the U.S. Open Cup since the Charleston Battery in 2008.

While the Republic are considered a relative longshot to win the tournament, they shocked MLS clubs in the San Jose Earthquakes, LA Galaxy and Sporting Kansas City to reach the final.

Orlando City is looking to win its first U.S. Open Cup, but it is coming off the first two MLS playoff appearances in club history in each of the past two seasons, meaning the 2015 MLS expansion team has been building momentum.


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