Justin Braun is a name that was once synonymous with Sacramento Republic FC. The 29 year old forward was one of the earliest signings in the team’s inaugural year,putting pen to paper in February of 2014. Then-Head Coach Preki, who had given Braun his first ever professional contract with Chivas USA in 2008, cemented the Salt Lake City native’s central place in the team by giving him the captain’s armband, which he retained throughout his two seasons in Sacramento.
Braun’s time in Sacramento came to an abrupt end earlier this year when he, along with Nemanja Vukovic, were transferred to the NASL's Indy Eleven.
"It wasn’t me at all," Braun said of the transfer in a recent Beeman’s Republic interview. "I had a contract so I was planning on staying [in Sacramento] for this coming year, but I was told that I wasn’t wanted and I wouldn’t be playing if I was to stick around so I thought it would make sense for me to find an option where I was wanted."
While being transferred halfway across the country is not easy on anyone, Braun accepted it as part of the realities of being a professional player and was determined to make the best of the situation. "It’s part of the business of soccer, as a player you have to take that as it is and move on, move forward."
Braun certainly has moved forward with his new team. Indy have gone through most of the Spring NASL season undefeated and the former Republic captain has been a big part of that success. Braun has played in all nine of Indy’s matches, has scored two goals, and leads the team with 12 chances created. Fellow Republic alumnus Nemanja Vukovic has also done well with Indy and has been named in the NASL Team of the Week five times.
"We have a lot of guys with experience," said Braun on the reason behind Indy’s success. "Guys with have played in top leagues and know what it takes to be champions."
Braun also pointed to the camaraderie in the locker room as a factor. "A big thing for us is that guys are playing for the guy next to them," he said. "It’s not just about yourself, it’s about the 10 other guys on the field you’re playing with.
Braun and his new team have just one match left in the Spring season, this Saturday’s high-stakes game against the Carolina Railhawks, in which they have a chance to clinch the Spring season title and receive an automatic bid to NASL’s postseason with either a one or two seed. However, while Indy have a chance at the title, it is not an easy one.
In order to finish the Spring season in the top spot, Saturday’s game will have to be a goal-fest. Braun and his teammates will have to either win by four goals or by three goals in a game in which they score at least four, all the while hoping that results elsewhere in the league go their way. It might be a tough ask, but Braun says that the team is up for it, saying "we’re looking forward to the challenge this weekend and trying to get some goals and hopefully walking away with a Spring championship."
That being said, Braun also said that it is not the end of the world if the stars do not align in Indy’s favor, saying that he and his teammates still have the rest of the season to look forward to, as well as the Fall championship and the overall points standings.
With so much happening in Indy, one might think that Braun has not had time to keep up on things back in Sacramento. However, that is not the case. "When I was there I became good friends with a lot of the guys and also people throughout the city, Braun said. "So I definitely check in every once and a while to see how the team’s doing."
Braun and Indy Eleven play their final match of the Spring season this Saturday at 4:30 PT, just three hours before Sacramento Republic kick off in Reno against Real Monarchs.
Make sure to check out next week’s Alumni Report to see how the game turns out for Braun and Vukovic.