SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sacramento Republic FC has added five local players from the club’s youth development academy to the First Team roster ahead of the 2021 USL Championship regular season. The five players – Erik Centeno, Julian Chavez, Ulises Esquivel, Emmanuel Johnson, and Jesus Sanchez – have signed USL Academy contracts making them eligible to join Republic FC for USL Championship matches, pending league and federation approval. The five players joined Republic FC earlier this year for training camp in preparation for the 2021 season.
Last year, Republic FC signed four players to USL Academy contracts, including Rafael Jauregui, who signed his first full professional contract last fall – joining fellow academy players Hayden Sargis and Mario Penagos on the first team.
“Our academy continues to produce quality people and quality players, and we are delighted to see this group earn the opportunity for first team minutes. Danny, JuJu, Uli, EJ, and Chuy have impressed in preseason and will be valuable pieces for us, especially in this condensed season,” said Republic FC President & General Manager Todd Dunivant. “Our academy staff continue to do a tremendous job of cultivating players that embody our club identity and playing style and can seamlessly contribute to the goal of winning a championship for Sacramento.”
Chavez, an 18-year-old midfielder from Sacramento, has been a member of Republic FC’s Academy since 2015. Last season, “JuJu” joined the first team after signing his first USL Academy contract. In 2020, he earned his first USL Championship start, scored a game-winning goal against Timbers 2 to support the club’s run to the playoffs, and was in the game day squad nine times and made four appearances as a substitute.
Centeno, an 18-year-old defender from Stockton, returns to Republic FC after a brief stint with FC Dallas. “Danny” joined the Indomitable Club’s academy in 2015 and has logged matches at each age level. During U.S. Soccer Development Academy competition, he appeared in 105 games (85 starts) and scored 13 goals. Before joining Republic FC, Danny played for local youth club, East Valley FC.
Johnson, a 17-year-old forward from Fairfield, joined Republic FC’s Academy in 2016. Before last season’s hiatus due to the pandemic, he logged 90 appearances (63 starts) with 29 goals scored while competing for Republic FC’s academy across various age groups in U.S. Soccer Development Academy competition. Before joining Republic FC, EJ played for local youth club, North Bay.
Esquivel, an 18-year-old defender from Sacramento, joined Republic FC’s Academy in 2019. In the abbreviated 2019-20 season, he logged 14 appearances with 11 starts in U.S. Soccer Development Academy competition. Before joining Republic FC, Uli played for local youth club, Sacramento United.
Sanchez, a 17-year-old goalkeeper from Madera, has been a member of Republic FC’s academy since 2017. In three seasons, “Chuy” made 50 appearances (49 starts) for the Indomitable Club’s youth sides across U.S. Soccer Development Academy competition. Before joining Republic FC, Chuy played for local youth club, Cal Odyssey.