July 2022 was an important month for Santiago Suarez.
On Jul. 23, the 6’5 center back made his professional debut for Sacramento Republic FC of the USL Championship, going 90 minutes in a scoreless draw with Phoenix Rising FC.
Soon after, he joined a U.S. U-19 National Team Camp where he encountered Jermaine Jones, who serves as an assistant coach.
“The first time I met him and shook his hand, I thanked him for everything he’s done for our nation,” Suarez told the media on Wednesday. “He’s really a player that we all look up towards because he was really that first kind of in to Europe and a big player.”
Suarez enjoyed working with Jones. Although they didn’t spend long together, he said it was “really cool” to “learn from him and the arts that he played.” He noted that the former USMNT midfielder “was a great coach.”
While that moment was certainly memorable, another interaction might’ve been more influential.
At the camp, Suarez played with Esmir Bajraktarević, Noel Buck, and Jack Panayotou. The Revs Academy products, two of which are now with the first team, spoke highly of the club.
Four months later, Suarez signed a multi-year contract with the Revs.
“It was kind of a mix of they saw me play in Phoenix and there being New England Revolution players my age in that camp,” Suarez said about what prompted the offer. “So, [Revs Technical Director] Curt [Onalfo] was talking with the players at the camp saying, ‘Hey, get this kid, we liked this kid.’ They watched me play that game. They were scouting me at the MLS NEXT Cup as well. And that was kind of how it all happened.”
The 17-year-old grew up in California, playing for Blues FC before joining the Sacramento Republic FC Academy. He will now head to Massachusetts, where he will play for Revs II before signing a Homegrown contract ahead of the 2024 season. The hope is that he will one day fulfill his dream of being an MLS player.
And a lot of this can be traced back to July 2022.
“This has been an emotional roller coaster here because growing up I was always watching the MLS and that was always my goal,” Suarez said. “I always wanted to play, I always wanted to be a player or involved in a club.
“And now that I have the amazing opportunity to represent such an amazing club like New England Revolution, yeah there’s been a lot of emotions.”