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Can Sacramento Republic’s youngsters make a big contribution?

Most of them will likely be pressed into service.

Courtesy of Sacramento Republic FC.

Sacramento Republic have 23 players on their roster at present by my count. That’s a full squad, but that doesn’t mean there’s much room for error with this group in 2020.

Expect squad rotation with most of Sac Republic’s scheduled games to come on less than a week of rest, and that means all or nearly all 23 players will get at least some playing time.

And that means the youngsters will most likely get a run. Will any of them be able to really rise to the occasion and do more than fill in for the older players or come off the bench in a pinch? Time will tell.

But even from the one game played this year, we saw SRFC head coach Mark Briggs wasn’t afraid to go to his youth straightaway. Teenage first-team signings Hayden Sargis and Mario Penagos both started in the opening-day draw against FC Tulsa, and neither looked out of place. Sargis went the full 90, while Penagos lasted 68 minutes before being substituted.

To me, that’s a sign that Briggs thinks he can get real minutes from both players, and while I imagine they’ll monitor the players’ fitness levels to prevent them from hitting a wall down the line, I definitely think they’ll get some run.

Beyond that, Sac Republic currently have three academy signings, in midfielders Rafael Jauregui and Julian Chavez and goalkeeper Diego Ramos. Considering these players are on academy deals, their minutes are limited anyway, but I think Jauregui and Chavez will get playing time. Again, with so many games in a short time, most on short rest, and, admittedly, Republic FC getting a favorable group draw, rotation will be a likely policy and at the very least the two midfielders will get some time.

In Ramos’ case, I’m not as sure he’ll get time with the first team this year unless there’s an emergency. With two capable veterans ahead of him in Adam Grinwis and Rafael Diaz, and with goalkeepers generally able to go game after game, rotation will likely be less of a concern for the goalkeepers unless, again, there’s an injury or suspension/ejection and Ramos is pressed into action.

So, with the possible exception of Ramos, I think we’ll see the other 22 players, including the teenagers, on the roster this year. It will be a real sink or swim moment for some of the youngsters, but that’s kind of the point of the USL Championship. Will any of them take the moment with both hands? We’ll see if they can step up in a tight moment when the league restarts in the coming days.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.