Adam Jahn, the newest Republic FC player, wants to turn what might be viewed as a negative into a positive.
Jahn, a former standout for Jesuit High School and Stanford, was an important contributor for the Earthquakes as a rookie last season. He scored four goals and played in 22 matches, including 11 starts, and was one of the Major League Soccer team’s bright spots in a non-playoff season.
But this year, the Davis native found himself stuck to the Earthquakes’ bench. His only appearance was brief – three minutes April 19 against the Colorado Rapids before getting a red card that forced him to sit out the next match against Chivas USA.
A few days before Republic FC’s home debut at Hughes Stadium last Saturday, the Earthquakes loaned Jahn to the new USL Pro franchise.
“I think there are two ways you can react,” Jahn said. “You can either get down on yourself and let it affect you, or you can take the experience for what it is. You get to come to Sacramento and learn from one of the greatest players in MLS history in Preki and get to play. So that’s been awesome.”
Jahn, a 6-foot-2 forward, debuted in front of a boisterous announced sellout crowd of 20,231. He scored the only goal on a back-post header in the first half and played the entire 90 minutes in Republic FC’s 2-1 loss to the Harrisburg (Pa.) City Islanders.
“I was blown away,” Jahn said of the crowd. “Warming up 45 minutes before the game, and the stadium already was half full. You can’t ask anything more than that. That’s what you live for as a player.”
For Saturday night’s match against Orange County Blues FC at Hughes Stadium, Preki is looking for more from his target forward, called “Pillow Feet” for his touch on the ball.
“He did OK,” Preki said of Jahn’s debut. “I have higher expectations for him. My job is to get him up to speed and teach him what we’re trying to do. He’s a smart guy and a good student.”
With starting forwards Justin Braun and Mike Fucito out with hamstring injuries last Saturday, Republic FC needed every minute from Jahn, whose biggest disappointment was that he couldn’t help the team score more goals.
“We feel like we let the fans down and Preki down,” Jahn said. “It’s all about getting the result. It doesn’t have to be pretty. You don’t have to play beautiful soccer all the time. It’s about getting the win, so we’re focusing hard this week to see that it happens this weekend.”
Kudos for the fans – Republic FC’s sellout crowd caught not only the attention of USL Pro officials, but those of MLS.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber tweeted a congratulatory note about the match, which outdrew six of the seven MLS matches last weekend, including nearly doubling the announced 10,525 that saw Chivas USA play at the Earthquakes on Saturday night.
The only MLS match to outdraw Republic FC was the Seattle Sounders’ 4-1 win over Colorado, with an announced 38,582 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
“Anytime you launch a franchise, you want there to be a buzz and excitement in the city and in the sports community,” said USL Pro President Tim Holt. “They over-performed on all fronts. ... Sacramento Republic put themselves on the national soccer map Saturday night in a very big way.”
No panic – Despite Sacramento’s losses to Arizona United SC (1-1-1) and the Harrisburg (Pa.) City Islanders (1-3-1) in its last two matches, Republic FC goalie Jake Gleeson said the team still is capable of challenging front-runners Orlando City and the Los Angeles Galaxy II for the league title.
“This team has the talent, coaching and support staff to be a USL champion,” said Gleeson, expected to be available Saturday night after missing the last three matches with a groin injury. “It’s still early days for this club. We’re still trying to figure out people and positions, though we need to (fix) these little mistakes. When we jell, USL will take notice, and we will become one of the feared teams in the league.”
Republic FC is in a three-way tie for fifth place with seven points. The top eight finishers in the 14-team league make the postseason.