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Sacramento Republic sign 5 players to academy contracts for 2021

Chavez joined by four newcomers to first team.

Courtesy of Republic FC.

Sacramento Republic FC announced Wednesday they have signed five players to academy contracts for the 2021 USL Championship season.

Returning midfielder Julian Chavez is joined by midfielder Erik “Danny” Centeno, forward Emmanuel Johnson, defender Ulises Esquivel and goalkeeper Jesus “Chuy” Sanchez as academy signings for 2021 for the club.

“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 in a team statement. “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, 18, made five appearances in 2020 for Sac Republic’s first team, and memorably scored an absolute banger to beat Portland Timbers 2 in Portland along the way.

Centeno, 18, recently rejoined the Sac Republic academy after playing for FC Dallas’ youth set-up. The Stockton native first joined the SRFC academy in 2015.

Johnson, 17, is from Fairfield and joined Republic FC’s academy in 2016.

Esquivel, 18, joined Sac Republic’s academy in 2019 from Sacramento United. He is a native of Sacramento.

Sanchez, 17, is presumably Sacramento’s 3rd string GK behind Rafael Diaz and Tomas Gomez. From Madera, he joined the SRFC academy in 2017.

Academy contracts allow academy players to play in first-team games in USL, while also maintaining their amateur eligibility if they want to play NCAA soccer later on. It’s meant to both help player development and bridge the gap when teams may have selection issues on the first team, while encouraging investment in clubs’ academy systems. From my understanding, there is some kind of minutes/appearances limit on academy contracts, so the players are meant to provide depth for the first-team squad.

Congrats to all five players and we’ll see when and how often they see the field in 2021!

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