As Sacramento Republic FC prepares to make the jump to the highest level of American professional soccer, one Weston Ranch sophomore finds himself a step closer to realizing a dream.
Josemaria Barrera is a midfielder with the club’s 2004 academy team, which competes in the highest division of competitive youth soccer. Barrera, who is prohibited from playing for his high school this winter, started and played 61 minutes in the Republic’s 4-3 win over the Crossfire Premier on Nov. 17.
The U.S. Soccer Development Academy program is designed to develop players for the club’s first team, as well as feed the national team pool and its various age groups. In October, Major League Soccer expanded its lineup, naming Sacramento its 29th franchise. The Republic will begin play in 2022.
“It’s an honor playing there,” Barrera said. “There’s a lot of competition and a lot of dedication to the sport and dedication to the club. They force me to play better to (possibly) reach the 19s and to compete with the national team.”
Barrera’s rise has been equally fast, and his story unique. He wasn’t raised in the pay-to-play club system; rather, he credits his training and rapid growth to his family and local weekend leagues.
His biggest influences are his father Oscar Barrera and local physician Raymond Manshadi, who sponsored Barrera’s tryouts with Republic.
“Ever since I was small, (my father) would teach me how to play. He never gave up on me and taught me to play better,” Barrera said. “Once I met, Ramin Manshadi (local doctor), he sponsored my tryouts with the Sac Republic.
“I made it and now I’m playing for my dream.”