Earlier today, Republic FC academy players Erik “Danny” Centeno and first team signee, Gio Aguilar, were selected in the 2022 MLS SuperDraft. Centeno was selected 19th overall by Atlanta United FC. Aguilar was selected 49th overall by Vancouver Whitecaps FC. With their selections, Centeno and Aguilar become the second and third Republic FC academy players drafted in the MLS SuperDraft. In 2021, Nabi Kibunguchy was selected 18th overall by Minnesota United and then was loaned back to his home club, Republic FC, for his professional debut.
“Our academy continues to produce quality players and quality people, and we are thrilled to see Danny and Gio be recognized at the topflight of American soccer,” said Republic FC President and General Manager Todd Dunivant.
Both Centeno and Aguilar joined Republic FC’s youth development academy in its inaugural 2015 season. Centeno (Stockton, CA) was a member of Republic FC’s U19 squad that reached the 2021 MLS NEXT Cup Semifinals - the highest tier of youth development in American soccer. Before joining Republic FC’s youth development academy, he was a member of the East Valley Earthquakes of NorCal Premier Soccer.
Last season, Centeno earned a USL Academy Contract, making him eligible to join Republic FC’s first team for USL Championship matches. In the fall, he joined the soccer program at the University of the Pacific, finishing his freshman season as the only first-year player to start all 16 matches and earning West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year honors. He was one of eight players nationwide – and one of two freshmen – to be selected for the elite Generation adidas program, which incentivizes clubs to develop young talented players. Previous Generation adidas players include US men’s national team members Miles Robinson (No. 2, 2017), Cristian Roldan (No. 16, 2015), Jackson Yueill (No. 6, 2017) and Walker Zimmerman (No. 7, 2013).
Aguilar (Olivehurst, CA) recently signed his first professional contract with Republic FC in December 2021 and helped the academy’s U18 team reach the playoffs in its first year of competition. He was later named to the U.S. Development Academy Western Conference Best XI. Following high school graduation, he joined the soccer program at California State University, Northridge, where he made an immediate impact – making 20 starts in 21 appearances and posting 10 shots in his freshmen season. In addition to being named to the Big West Conference All-Freshman Team and receiving All-Conference Honorable Mention, he was also listed on Top Drawer Soccer’s 100 Freshmen in 2017. He finished his collegiate career with 71 starts in 72 appearances (3,200 minutes), three goals, 11 assists, and 63 shots.
Since its inception in 2015, the club’s youth academy has provided a training environment for top youth players to develop into professional players for the club’s first team, other professional clubs, and elite college programs. Two former academy players have been signed to MLS contracts, three have joined the club’s first team as professionals, and over 40 have signed to Division 1 college soccer programs. For more information on the academy, visit SacRepublicFC.com/Academy.
Republic FC also provides local players an additional pathway to professional soccer. On Saturday, the club will host its 9th annual Open Tryout. Since the club’s launch, at least one player has been guaranteed an opportunity to join the club for training camp, with the chance to earn a professional contract. Since 2014, four Open Tryout players have signed a pro contract with Republic FC. Limited space remains and players are encouraged to sign up as soon as possible at SacRepublicFC.com/Tryouts.