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Sacramento Republic Roster for 2021 (Updated)

Sacramento Republic GM Todd Dunivant and Head Coach Mark Briggs made their first roster moves this week in preparation for the 2021 season. Their 2020 campaign was cruelly ended when they were punched out of the USL Championship playoff quarter-final by eventual finalists, Phoenix Rising.

With the club’s entry into Major League Soccer pushed back to the 2023 season, management seems to be looking for youth in hopes of developing players for MLS duty. We will be updating this page through the off-season as changes happen.

January 2021 Update:

  • Goalkeeper Tomas Gomez joins the club from Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. The 27-year-old Mexican native has five seasons of experience.
  • Irish youth international defender, Dan Casey, joins from Irish League runners-up Bohemians.
  • Matt Glaeser was hired as an assistant coach for 2021, after a season with the MLS Real Salt Lake organization. He previously worked with Head Coach Mark Briggs in Wilmington.
  • 24-year-old attacking midfielder Tucker Bone joins Republic FC following a season with Reno 1868 FC. He attended Jesuit High School in Carmichael and played for local area youth clubs, Placer United and Sacramento United.
  • Defensive midfielder Luis Felipe joins Republic FC following three seasons with the San Jose Earthquakes. He also has played for Reno 1868 FC and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the NASL.

December 17th 2020 Update:

  • The club’s leading goalscorer in 2020, Polish attacking midfielder Dariusz Formella signed a new contract for 2021.
  • After a season with San Antonio, defender Mitch Taintor has returned to Sacramento.
  • Forward Kharlton Belmar has signed a new contract for 2021.

December 10th 2020 Update:

  • Finnish veteran midfielder Petteri Pennanen signed with the Republic, pending Federation and visa approval. Pennanen was voted “Midfielder of the Year” in 2018 and 2019 by his fellow Finnish league players.
  • New Jersey native Markhus ‘Duke’ Lacroix joined the club from USL Eastern Conference side Charlotte Independence. The defender had previously played for Reno 1868 FC.
  • Jamaican international midfielder Maalique Foster signed a contract with Sacramento after a season in the Israeli Premier League.

November 30th 2020 Update:

  • Sacramento native and Academy product Rafael Jauregui signed a professional contract

November 17th 2020 Update:

  • Young Player of the Year Finalist Hayden Sargis and fellow Republic FC Academy product Mario Penagos as well as club captain Cameron Iwasa are already under multiyear contracts.
  • Contract extensions have been exercised on Rafael Diaz, Shannon Gomez, Jordan McCrary, Jaime Villarreal, and Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu.
  • Contract negotiations continue with Kharlton Belmar and Dariusz Formella.
  • Contract extensions were not offered to Ashkanov Apollon, Villyan Bijev, Adam Grinwis, Rodrigo Lopez and Drew Skundrich.
  • Contracts with Juan Barahona and Matt Mahoney will expire at the end of the league year.
  • On loan players Brady Scott and Frank Lopez will return to their respective clubs.
  • Sam Werner and Tomas Hilliard-Arce have retired from professional soccer.

Here’s what the roster now looks like:

No. Position Player
18Goalkeeper Rafael Díaz (DOM)
27GoalkeeperTomás Gómez (MEX)
49Goalkeeper Diego Ramos (USA) Academy Player
2 Defender Shannon Gomez (TTO)
3 Defender Hayden Sargis (USA)
4Defender Mitch Taintor (USA)
5DefenderDan Casey (IRL)
14DefenderMarkhus “Duke” Lacroix (USA)
15Defender Juan Barahona (SLV)
21Defender Dekel Keinan (ISR)
30Defender Jordan McCrary (USA)
7MidfielderTucker Bone (USA)
8Midfielder Petteri “Pete” Pennanen (FIN)
10 Midfielder Dariusz Formella (POL)
22Midfielder Julian Chavez (USA) Academy Contract
23Midfielder Mario Penagos (USA)
24Midfielder Jaime Villarreal (USA)
28Midfielder Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu (USA)
34Midfielder Rafael Jauregui (USA)
96Midfielder Luis Felipe (USA)
99MidfielderMaalique Foster (JAM)
7Forward Frank Lopez (CUB)
9 Forward Kharlton Benmar (USA)
31 Forward Cameron Iwasa (USA) [CAPTAIN]

BOLD = Signed for 2021 season
“Academy Contract” = Retains NCAA Amateur Status

A Sensible Way Forward For College Athletics During The Pandemic – Which They’ll NEVER Do

Clemson University quarterback Trevor Lawrence, a Heisman Trophy candidate and potential first overall pick in next year’s NFL Draft, tweeted this on Monday about the very real potential shutdown of college football because of the coronavirus:  

“People are at just as much, if not more [at] risk, if we don’t play. Players will all be sent home to their own communities where social distancing is highly unlikely and medical care and expenses will be placed on the families if they were to contract Covid-19. Not to mention the players coming from situations that are not good for them/ their future and having to go back to that. Football is a safe haven for so many people. We are more likely to get the virus in everyday life than playing football. Having a season also incentivize’s players being safe and taking all of the right precautions to try to avoid contracting Covid because the season/ teammates safety is on the line. Without the season, as we’ve seen already, people will not social distance or wear masks and take the proper precautions. Let’s work together to create a situation where we can play the game that all of us love. Not divide and argue. There is a way forward”.  

Lawrence is not wrong – and I don’t disagree with him. There is a way, as Lawrence says, for colleges to positively advance their mission forward for athletes that, for the moment, does not include playing sports.  

There are a vast number of college athletes that, to paraphrase Lawrence, “will be sent home to situations that are not good for them.” For a good number of students, higher learning offers a functional community and, more importantly, a structure that they can’t get when they are not on campus accomplishing something that will constructively and positively move them forward towards better lives. In the case of on-campus athletes – especially the ones in sports that create great revenue for colleges – colleges have gone to great lengths to create this façade of athletes as students.  

The term “student-athlete” is a made-up term and concept coined in 1964 by Walter Byers, the first-ever executive director of the NCAA, to counter attempts to require universities to pay wages, salaries, or workers’ compensation. In the almost 60 years since, college athletics have succeeded in this aim, making staggering amounts of money in the process. This has been the ethic behind depriving millions of college athletes since any portion of that obscene monetary haul while at the same time making the flawed claim that “you can’t put a price on the college education they are getting”.  

Well, now is the perfect time for the NCAA and big time colleges and universities to put their money where their mouth is. Colleges are in a unique position to actually begin treating and dealing with these athletes as the first half of the term.  

If sports is not really an option for these athletes for the time being, then honor their scholarships. If it truly is safer on campus for athletes, like Lawrence claims, then let them stay on campus and reap the rewards of being in a “bubble” that best protects them during this uncertain and scary time during the pandemic, with access to health protocols and medical care they wouldn’t ordinarily be able to afford. Let them work out and stay in the shape and condition required for their sport (health and safety protocols allowing) when it is possible to carry on.  

Until then, the operative two words for these colleges should be “student” and “scholarship”. For the time being and despite the ethic the NCAA and big time colleges have pushed for over half a century, these athletes can’t really be “athletes” right now. So emphasize that they are there on a “scholarship” – which the last time I checked meant school (you know, college’s PRIMARY mission). Emphasize their education and encourage them to take as many classes as they can (virtually or otherwise according to health and safety protocols) in the time they clearly now have, and – heaven help – work towards a degree.  

These colleges and universities with big time multi-million dollar athletics claim they care about their athletes, and that you can’t put a price on a college education. Fine. Then right now make more of a priority out of helping your “student-athletes” learn something else substantive other that football, basketball, etc…  

…Of course, you as well as I know that the member schools of the Pac-12, Big-12, Big-10, SEC, and ACC will never do this. It makes way too much sense!  

Republic Roster: January Signings (Updated)

Sacramento Republic GM Todd Dunivant and Head Coach Mark Briggs continue to make roster moves this week with the pre-season games quickly approaching.

Just after New Year the team signed defender Tomas Hilliard-Arce, the 2nd overall pick in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft (by the LA Galaxy). He made 5 appearances for the MLS team in 2018 and played for Galaxy II in the USL during 2019.

Two 17-year old members of the Republic’s Academy program were signed to professional contracts, defender Hayden Stargis from Turlock CA and midfielder Mario Penagos from Elk Grove CA. They have been with the club since 2015.

January 21st the Republic announced the signing of experienced goalkeeper Adam Grinwis. The Michigan native previously played for Orlando City with a loan spell with Real Monarchs during 2018.

The team announced on January 23rd that forward Stefano Bonomo was retiring from professional soccer after a five year pro career.

With the opening of training camp January 27th at Consumnes River College the team invited Republic Academy goalkeeper Diego Ramos and midfielder Julian Chavez to attend. Also participating were midfielder Ashkanov Apollon, forwards Khalid Balogun and Daawdy Seay.

Here’s what the roster now looks like as the team builds not just for its seventh USL season but also looks towards MLS in 2022:

No. Position Player
99Goalkeeper Adam Grinwis (USA)
18Goalkeeper Rafael Díaz (DOM)
2 Defender Shannon Gomez (TTO)
3 Defender Hayden Stargis (USA)
5 Defender Matt Mahoney (USA)
4DefenderTomas Hilliard-Arce (USA)
15Defender Juan Barahona (SLV)
21Defender Dekel Keinan (ISR)
30Defender Jordan McCrary (USA)
8MidfielderRodrigo Lopez (USA)
10 Midfielder Dariusz Formella (POL)
11 Midfielder Sam Werner (USA)
12Midfielder Drew Skundrich (USA)
20Midfielder Villyan Bijev (BGR)
23Midfielder Mario Penagos (USA)
24Midfielder Jaime Villarreal (USA)
28Midfielder Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu (USA)
9Forward Kharlton Benmar (USA)
29 Forward Stefano Bonomo (USA)
31 Forward Cameron Iwasa (USA) [CAPTAIN]

BOLD = Signed for 2020 season