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College Soccer Awaits Nine From U19 Academy Team

By Alex Crook, 08/06/21, 2:00PM PDT

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Tradition-rich Academy Builds on Sending Players to the Next Level

Nine players from the Sacramento Republic FC Academy will take their talents to college soccer this coming year and join the ranks of 40+ former SRFC Academy players to show at the collegiate level.  These nine players will showcase for elite college all across the country and carry on Republic FC’s tradition of sending Academy players to the next level of college and professional soccer.

All nine players in this year’s class are members of the U19 squad that advanced to the semifinals of July’s MLS NEXT Playoffs in Dallas, Texas. 

“We could not be prouder of the work these young men have put in to develop themselves and represent our club both on and off the field,” SRFC Academy Director Dennis Sanchez said. “Their commitment and desire to continually grow as a group culminated at last month’s fantastic showing at the MLS NEXT Cup. The strength and reputation of this Academy that precedes itself continues to hold true, and we look forward to seeing these young men carry on our proud tradition of representing Sacramento Republic FC at the next level.”

Republic FC has built a name for itself in producing homegrown talent as a result of our developmental process led by our technical staff, as well as the rich pool of talent in the region and valuable competition model created in and outside of our environment. The Academy continues to support all individual pathways – professional and collegiate – to help each player reach their full potential.  

Current first team teammates and SRFC Academy products Mario Penagos, Hayden Sargis and Rafa Jauregui are a testament to the Academy’s ability to provide a pathway to the professional ranks. The nine members of this year’s U19 squad are set to showcase for top-tier colleges across the country beginning this fall. 

Meet the Signees

Amjot Narang, a tactically gifted first-team call up from El Dorado Hills with high intelligence and decision-making skills, will head south and compete in the soccer tradition-rich Pac-12 for UCLA. One of two Pac-12-bound Academy products this year, Narang signed a USL Academy contract and was selected for every match of division play in Dallas as well as the MLS NEXT Cup. Narang is joined in the Pac-12 by 2020 conference runner up Washington-bound Ulises Esquivel, who also signed a USL Academy contract earlier this year and wore the captain’s armband at MLS NEXT. Esquivel and Narang will reunite on the pitch as opponents when the Bruins travel to the Pacific Northwest on October 3.

Jorge Galvan and Erik Centeno (also has USL Academy contract) will remain teammates, as both are headed just down the road to the University of the Pacific. Armando Jimenez (Sacramento State), Maxwell Johnson (UC Santa Barbara) and USL Academy Contract signee Aris Yang (Cal State Fullerton) will all face off against each other at the next level when the trio competes in the Big West Conference. 

Jimenez converted a Panenka penalty in the club’s quarterfinal matchup against Cedar Stars, while Yang cemented SRFC’s spot in the semifinal with the winning penalty. Yang, whose winning penalty was his first touch of the game, was subbed on in the 88th minute just so he could be available from the spot – showing U19 head coach Ivan Mirkovic’s confidence in the future Titan. 

Mason Pahule is headed to Colgate for the coming season after appearing in 118 matches for the Academy and competing for the first team on multiple occasions. Pahule and Johnson will reconnect in a little over a month’s time on September 10, when Colgate hosts 2019 Big West runner up UC Santa Barbara.

Team captains Pahule and Esquivel have taken different paths throughout their time in the Academy. Esquivel was the only player to see the pitch for every single minute, while an injury forced Pahule to watch the tournament from the sidelines. Nevertheless, Mirkovic notes that the duo’s “leadership, Indomitable characters and love for the club made them unbreakable.”

Ian Reis is the final Academy product in this year’s U19 class to rise to the college game, making his way to Sonoma State. Like Galvan, Reis took the long road to the Academy – literally. The two of them, both Napa natives, commuted to and from Sacramento five times per week just to be a part of the club. 

“In such a short period of time,” Mirkovic said, “they showed outstanding commitment and desire to improve and reach the next level. The sky is the limit for those two.”

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