Republic FC’s Youth Academy squads have started the 2021-22 campaign, with the goal of once again competing for the end of season prize, MLS NEXT Cup. The elite competition features the best youth players in the country, pulling on the shirt for top clubs, including MLS sides preparing talented prospects to enter the pros directly.
The club’s academy hit the ground running in the new league last season, which saw Republic FC’s U14, U15, and U17 squads all finish atop their divisions — one of a few teams in the country to qualify all of its eligible teams. The U19 team accompanied the U17 squad to the MLS NEXT Cup semifinals, making Republic FC the only club to advance multiple teams to the final stages of the tournament.
Following the performance of the academy squads, the club awarded USL Academy Contracts- which allow players to train and compete with the first team while preserving their amateur status- to seven players, and had nine announce their commitments to NCAA soccer programs across the country. After featuring for the U19 squad, academy product Amjot Narang made his professional debut on August 28, logging ten minutes against the Landon Donovan-coached San Diego Loyal SC.
This season, the players in Republic FC’s youth ranks remain uniquely positioned to benefit from the offerings of the club’s Academy while also striving to continue their on-field success in MLS NEXT. With first team and playoff experience from last season, they’ll have a leg up on the rest of the nation’s best competition, which includes 30 clubs with direct ties to a professional side- and every MLS team- preparing them for the next level of soccer in ways no other club can.
Ahead of the upcoming campaign, the club has continued efforts to identify talented players and effectively integrate the academy with the first team. These strategic adjustments will be crucial to achieving the club’s goals to evolve and grow the program for the players it serves- especially since each team and season is different than the last.
Ahead of the season, Academy Director Dennis Sanchez is positive his players will continue to build off last year’s successes. “There’s a lot of momentum coming off of last season,” he said. “We are happy with the success we achieved last season but remain humble and understand we must continue to progress individually and collectively as an academy. We are motivated to better each day and embrace the pressure of improving upon last year.”
Sanchez is also confident that the Academy can continue to develop players capable of contributing at the professional level. “We’ve always believed that our club and academy is capable of being one of the best academies in the US. Our developmental process, learning environment, and player pathway has shown that we are capable of consistently producing professional players and competing on a national level across all age groups. The momentum we have created should only breed more confidence for our players.”
The Republic FC academy squads began their 2021 seasons earlier this month with the U13, U14 and U 19 squads all picking up big wins over Lamorinda SC, while the U15 and U17 squads faced off against Seattle Sounders. For each team, the season will run until December, and resume in January following a break for the holidays.