D.C. United, who appear to be very busy after a quiet winter, has announced the signing of young center back Hayden Sargis from USL Championship club Sacramento Republic FC. Sargis’ deal runs through 2024, with option years for 2025 and 2026. Further terms, including whether a transfer fee was paid, were not announced by either club, but the Washington Post is reporting that United has paid a $25,000 transfer fee that could rise if Sargis hits certain performance benchmarks.
“Hayden [Sargis] is a young center back who has all the qualities to be an outstanding piece of our backline in Hernán’s system,” said United General Manager Lucy Rushton in a team press release. “He played a lot of minutes for Sacramento Republic, and we believe he is ready to make the jump up to MLS and compete for minutes on the first team. We’re excited to welcome him to the club and we’re looking forward to getting him integrated with the rest of the squad in preseason.”
“Hayden is a talented player, and an even better person who represents everything we are about in Sacramento. We have no doubt that he will go on to do great things in his career and will forever be a shining example of our indomitable club,” said Republic FC President and General Manager Todd Dunivant in Sacramento’s release announcing the deal. “He is a glowing example of the top-tier talent in Northern California and further proof that our academy player pathway allows for players to reach their highest potential.”
The Washington Post’s Steven Goff first reported that Sargis, 19, was a United target a little over a week ago. A 6’ center back, Sargis already has two pro seasons under his belt with Sacramento, making 33 appearances (30 starts) after being signed out of the Republic’s academy system. He has been in training with United since preseason kicked off last week.
Sargis gives United some needed depth on the back line, where the Black-and-Red were constantly having to change things up last season. Steven Birnbaum, Brendan Hines-Ike, Chris Odoi-Atsem, and Donovan Pines all missed 10 or more games due to injuries, while Andy Najar had similar availability issues due to a mix of knocks, load management, and international call-ups. Frédéric Brillant retired this winter to become an assistant coach with Loudoun United, leaving Tony Alfaro as the only holdover from last year’s side to be consistently available for Hernán Losada’s back three.
Sargis continues a seeming trend from the Black-and-Red to focus on promising USL Championship players: Jeremy Garay and Ted Ku-DiPietro both got homegrown contracts after starting out with Loudoun, while Gaoussou Samaké earned an MLS deal thanks to his play for Ryan Martin’s side last year. Similarly, United signed Alfaro and Drew Skundrich from USL Championship clubs last winter, with both playing regular minutes in 2021.
The signing brings United — whose first preseason game of 2022 is five days away — up to 24 players under contract. That number will very likely climb quickly, with goalkeeper Jon Kempin in camp while he and the club complete contract talks. It has been widely reported that United is about to trade Designated Player Paul Arriola to FC Dallas, but DCU looking to secure his replacement before making the trade is a consistent factor in those rumors. Most recently, United was linked to a move for 24-year-old Ecuador winger Joao Rojas.