On the evening of July 20, Rafael Jauregui made Sacramento soccer history when he stepped onto the pitch as the youngest to do so in the history of the Indomitable Club.
It was a big moment for the club and the rising star in the Republic FC midfield, but it was an even bigger moment for the Jauregui family. Talk about a different kind of debut – a stadium with no fans, and your biggest supporters crashing the levy to get glimpse of your debut.
At only 15 years old, Rafa – a Sacramento-native – became the youngest in club history to make an appearance in a competitive match when he entered against Reno 1868 FC in the second half and on September 30, he followed up that feat with another as the Republic FC Youth Academy product became the youngest to start a USL Championship contest when he appeared in the starting eleven against Tacoma Defiance at the age of 15 years, nine months and ten days old.
Jauregui's successful passing percentage of 88.1% from 42 completed passes was the best on the team in 2020.
"It doesn't matter if he's 15 years old and thrown into a game with 30-year old guys twice his age - he's unfazed," Republic FC General Manager Todd Dunivant said after Jauregui signed his deal over the weekend. "It doesn't matter if it's a big game. It doesn't matter if it's a small sided training. He's unfazed by whatever's thrown at him."
In his debut season, the promising youngster played over 100 minutes of first team play – setting a record for players from the club’s academy with every tick of the clock . Despite a shortened season in 2020, Jauregui still managed to feature in five different fixtures and was an available substitute in Republic FC’s USL Championship Western Conference Quarterfinal clash with Phoenix Rising FC. He also was listed in the 18-man game day roster in 13 of 16 matches after signing his first USL Academy contract prior to the restart of the 2020 regular season.
"He's just got poise well beyond his years," Dunivant added about Jauregui. "He's got a poise that, it doesn't matter the age, you can't teach that. He's comfortable on the ball. He's good at play-making. You know that he's going to do a job for you every time he steps on the field."
And next season, he’s on a mission to prove more. Now with his first professional contract signed, he’ll once again serve the first team – his hometown squad, as they chase silverware in 2021.
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