SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sacramento Republic FC announced today that the club has reached an agreement to send homegrown midfielder Mario Penagos on loan to FC Cincinnati 2 of MLS Next Pro for the remainder of the 2022 season, pending league and federation approval. Per club policy, the terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
“From the time he signed a first-team contract at 17-years-old, Mario has proven he’s ready to contribute at the professional level,” said Republic FC President and General Manager Todd Dunivant. “We believe this is an outstanding opportunity for Mario, and we will be keeping a close eye on his continued development in Cincinnati.”
Penagos joined Republic FC from Sacramento United in 2015 as a member of the club’s youth development academy in its inaugural season. A native of Elk Grove, California, Penagos rose through Republic FC’s youth ranks, scoring 54 times in 124 appearances across five seasons. In 2019, Penagos earned an Academy Contract, and made his first-team debut that July in a friendly against Club America’s U20 side.
Penagos signed a first-team contract on January 15, 2020 and made club history by making his pro debut as part of the starting XI in the season home-opener with fellow academy teammate Hayden Sargis.
Following the COVID pause in 2020, Penagos appeared three times off the bench as his club pushed for the postseason, logging 20 minutes and netting his first career score – a crucial tiebreaker in the 87th minute against Portland Timbers 2 on September 1 – then making him the youngest goal scorer in Republic FC history at 18 years old.
The Elk Grove native broke out in 2021, joining a contingent of current and former academy players on the roster that logged nearly 4,000 first-team minutes. Penagos led Sacramento homegrown players in appearances (20), and matchday selections (25), while becoming just the second academy product to log 1,000 minutes in a season.
With his transfer to Cincinnati, Penagos becomes the eighth former Academy player to move to an MLS-affiliated club – and the fourth so far in 2022. Earlier this year, Republic FC transferred Hayden Sargis (DC United) and midfielder Gio Aguilar (Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2). Former Academy and First Team member defender Erik Centeno was selected in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft by Atlanta United FC on a Generation Adidas contract after six seasons with club’s youth development program.
Since its inception in 2015, the club’s youth academy has created a top-tier environment to support the development of the region’s best players to advance toward a professional contract. Five players from Republic FC’s Academy have signed professional contracts with the first team, with 29 elite players taking advantage of a USL Academy contract that allows them to compete in league play and retain their college eligibility. This season, all five of the club’s youth teams have won their MLS Next regional divisions, building upon last year’s success of the 17s and 19s advancing to the semi-finals of the postseason tournament.
Republic FC continues their season this Saturday, when LA Galaxy II makes its only visit to Heart Health Park this season. Kickoff is set for 8:00 p.m. and fans can watch the game on FOX40, FOX40.com and the FOX40 app, and streaming on ESPN+. Tickets for the match are available at SacRepublicFC.com/single-match-tickets.
TRANSACTION: Republic FC loans midfielder Mario Penagos to FC Cincinnati 2 (MLSNP).