Sacramento Republic FC has added Ezekiel “Zeke” Padilla to its squad as a USL Academy signing for the remainder of the 2023 season. | Photo courtesy Sacramento Republic FC
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sacramento Republic FC announced on Thursday the club had added forward Ezekiel “Zeke” Padilla to its USL Championship roster as a USL Academy signing. Padilla is a member of Republic FC’s U-17 Academy squad and will be available for selection on Friday night when Republic FC visits Hartford Athletic.
As a USL Academy signing, Padilla is eligible to train and compete with Republic FC's First Team in the USL Championship while retaining his NCAA eligibility.
“The quality of our youth development academy continues to shine and produce players with first-team pedigree,” said Republic FC President and General Manager Todd Dunivant. “Zeke impressed the players and staff this season at multiple first team training sessions, and his massive goal to advance the club to the MLS Next Playoffs was a just reward for his hard work.”
“Zeke has performed at a high level in the short time he’s been with us this season and earned this opportunity,” said Republic FC Academy Director Eder Quintanilla. “He is the latest example of the tremendous work our players put in to prepare themselves for the professional ranks.”
A native of Livingston, California, Padilla joined Sacramento’s academy in January after previously playing with local clubs Impact SC and Modesto Ajax. This season, he has made nine appearances for Republic FC’s U-17 squad in league play, scoring three times and logging just over 400 minutes. He becomes the fourth player from the club’s youth system to sign a USL Academy contract this year, joining teammates Ethan Kelly, Blake Willey, and Ermias Yohannes, and is the 34th since the Academy’s inception in 2015.
Earlier this month, Padilla and Republic FC’s Academy U-17’s qualified for the 2023 MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs in June, giving the squad an opportunity to play in the division’s national championship. The club has featured three teams that advanced to the national semifinals in the past two seasons of the tournament – the only club to do so nationwide. The forward scored the game winner for his club against Philadelphia Union on May 14 to secure his squad the top spot in their group at the MLS NEXT Flex tournament. It marks the third consecutive season Sacramento’s U-17s have earned a postseason berth and a chance at silverware on the national stage.