This year, midfielder Mario Penagos became just the second SRFC Academy product to log 1,000 minutes in a season. With another pro season under his belt, the 19-year-old is ready to break out.
In his second professional season, Penagos set a career-high in appearances and minutes. He led SRFC Academy players with 21 total appearances (including 13 starts) - logging at least 60 minutes in 12 matches - and eclipsed the 1,000-minute mark for the season at San Diego Loyal SC on October 9. The Elk Grove native posted a 70.8% passing accuracy in 2021, the same success rate from 2020, but with over 300 additional passes. He also finished among the top five on the team with 73.5% passing accuracy in the attacking half and posted a career-high 10 shots.
Not only did Mario’s personal stats standout, but his play made an impact on overall team performance. In matches in which he played at least 30 minutes, the squad earned an average of 1.24 points – the third best among SRFC players. He also drew two fouls in the penalty box, with Cameron Iwasa converting on both.
Penagos signed his first professional contract with Republic FC in January 2020 following a remarkable five-year career with the club’s Youth Academy, where he netted 54 goals across 124 appearances. He made an immediate impact during preseason play, putting up an assist two minutes into his first appearance - and just a week later, he made his league debut in Sacramento’s opening game of the USL Championship season.
Later that year, he secured his spot in the SRFC history book when he netted his first career goal against Portland Timbers 2 on September 2. After receiving a pass from Cam Iwasa at the top of the 18-yard box, Penagos dribbled the ball past the last defender and skillfully put it out of reach for the Portland goalkeeper. The goal made Mario the youngest goalscorer in Republic FC history, until fellow Academy player Julian Chavez—who is just one day younger—scored nine minutes later.
Along with Hayden Sargis and Rafael Jauregui, Mario heads into the 2022 season representing a successful Republic FC Academy program. In 2021, seven Academy members logged 3,953 minutes for the first team – the most in a single season in club history – and were available for matchday selection 121 times. Since 2015, 11 Academy players have signed to professional clubs (including three to SRFC), 33 players have been called into national team programs, and over 40 players have joined Division 1 soccer programs.