PDP Alum Roberto Hategan Hopes to Reach the Highest Level with Sac Republic
Note: This is the first in a series of features profiling former NorCal Premier Soccer Player Development Program players who have moved onto playing at the next level.
Despite being in just its fifth year of existence, Sacramento Republic FC has been one of the most successful lower-division franchises in the history of American Soccer.
And one of the aspects that the Republic have emphasized the most has been its Development Academy, which when founded was one of just three DA’s for USL clubs in the country.
The first-ever player signed to Sacramento’s senior squad from the academy was former NorCal Premier Soccer PDP player Roberto Hategan, a 16-year-old former San Juan player, who spent several years in NorCal’s elite PDP.
“[PDP] very useful for me because they bring all the top players into one area and you have better practices,” Hategan said. “There are top coaches, top players, and from there you move onto the state team, and then the national team, they scout you from there. It’s been very helpful for me.”
Hategan has since moved onto the U.S. youth national team, where the attacking midfielder has played a key role in recent results, while hoping to make a difference in this year’s Republic side.
“From PDP to national team is a very large step, it’s closer than going from club to national team, but from PDP, they prepare you for the national team,” Hategan said.
The clever playmaker made his professional debut in a friendly against Pachuca in 2017 and has been training with the Republic first team ever since, highlighting his desire to play at the top level possible.
There was something of a question with Hategan as to where he would eventually sign a professional contract — in early 2017, he trialed for NorCal Premier Soccer’s partner ACF Fiorentina, but instead chose to remain at home.
“I was connected with Fiorentina pretty well at the time,” Hategan said. ‘Just the way that it came by, Sacramento offered me a contract. It just happened that I was signed with Sacramento.”
From an early age, Hategan’s goal has always been to turn professional, fired by the passion of his Romanian family, who immigrated to the United States before he was born.
But for now, the youngster is focused on making an impact with Sacramento’s first team, even if it means missing out on a “regular” high school life.
“There’s perks to both sides. I don’t get much socialization because of homeschool, but I come here with the players and that’s where I get to talk with people and have fun,” Hategan said. “I miss the whole high school experience, I missed it all, but I’d rather be a professional soccer player than go to high school, to be honest. I had to make that sacrifice.”
For a young boy of just 16, Hategan shows maturity beyond his years in just understanding what it takes to reach the top level of the professional game.
“It’s very, very tough. Those that are trying to get here at a young age, those who are trying to get to the top level, it’s something that you really don’t expect,” he said. “There’s many trials for you, ups and downs, even at my age, I’ve just been happy to be here with the first team, but it’s a very tough experience. You have to be mentally strong and stick at it.”
However, Hategan is deliberate in his process to achieve success, noting that he has written down his goals for what will perhaps take him to the top level.
“I have them written out just to keep them in the back of my mind. One of the big ones for me is for me to make the national team consistently and just to be with a top team, if Sac Republic goes to MLS, I want to be there, to be the top player, to be in the starting XI,” he said. “Before I signed as a professional, I had it in my goals to sign a contract within the next couple of years and it turned out that in the next two months I signed the professional contract.”
While the Republic is where he currently plies his trade, Hategan won’t rule out playing overseas in the future.
“At the moment I want to stay here at Sacramento Republic and this is what I’ve focused on,” Hategan said. “In the future, it’s whatever God decides.”
And speaking of God, Hategan lists FC Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi as one of his idols.
“Messi is just out of this world,” he said. “No one compares to him. I don’t know where he came from.”