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2020 Sacramento Republic player postmortem: Tomas Hilliard-Arce

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Center back was a useful addition in his lone season at the club.

Courtesy of Republic FC

Tomas Hilliard-Arce was a savvy pickup by Sacramento Republic FC in 2020, the central defender getting some real run in the USL Championship with LA Galaxy II after being drafted by the Galaxy in 2018.

The No. 2 overall pick in that draft, Hilliard-Arce really didn’t get much of a shot at MLS level, and after he was released following the 2019 season, he went back to the USL Championship and signed with Sac Republic, reuniting with his former Stanford teammates Sam Werner and Drew Skundrich.

Although Hilliard-Arce missed the season opener, he became a regular at center back for Republic FC and settled in quite well in 2020, mostly teaming up with breakout star Hayden Sargis in central defense as the club lost just three times all season.

Here are Hilliard-Arce’s statistics in 2020:

Tomas Hilliard-Arce 2020 Statistics

2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
Regular Season 12 10 876 1 0 10 3 2 0
Playoffs 1 1 120 0 0 0 0 1 0
Total 13 11 996 1 0 10 3 3 0

I think Hilliard-Arce was an ideal player for Sac Republic, a defender known for his vocal leadership, in the prime of his career, who was established at this level and could settle quickly. Pretty much what the club wanted, he brought, and it was a successful tenure for Hilliard-Arce at the club.

Somewhat unfortunately, that tenure lasted just one season, as Hilliard-Arce has announced his retirement as a player. It may be a cliché, but it’s still true, that a Stanford degree is almost certainly more lucrative than a USL Championship pro contract, and Hilliard-Arce always came off as a bright guy. That education is likely going to open a lot of doors, and fair or not, there’s probably some disappointment that he didn’t get a chance to really prove himself at the MLS level after being such a high draft pick.

Still, he played well for Sac Republic and I have to imagine they would have liked him back for 2021 if he wanted to continue playing. Hilliard-Arce bridged the gap between teenagers like Sargis and aging veterans like Dekel Keinan, and was a good partner to both of those center backs. His leadership was legendary and off the charts, and won’t be easily replaced.

Let’s wrap up this post by getting another look at Hilliard-Arce’s goal for Sacramento, scored on his debut with the club:

Best of luck to Tomas in his future pursuits, whether those are in soccer or another walk of life.

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