SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- In just two short years, Sacramento's Republic FC will begin play in Major League Soccer.
While there is a lot to be done between now and then, the club is beginning to shape its roster for the transition and one of the new players this season actually found them.
“I'm not a big fan of open tryouts, honestly, because it's just too many people,” said Ashkanov Apollon.
Apollon said he decided to give soccer in the states another try. The 28-year old was playing in France but returned home to the West Coast over the holidays.
That's when he phoned Republic FC, who told Apollon about an open tryout in mid-January.
“We had the hope that we find, you know, that hidden treasure. Turns out this year that Ash is that hidden treasure,” said Republic FC head coach Mark Briggs.
“I mean, I came in, I had the right mentality, the right attitude and I was ready. And I just took the opportunity,” Apollon told FOX40.
“We liked what we saw and now he's going to be an integral part of our squad,” Briggs said.
Apollon was the only one of more than 200 hopefuls at the tryout to earn a contract with Republic FC's top team.
“Speed, strength, skill, ability; he likes to take people on,” Briggs explained. “So, he's the type of player we're looking for and he's gonna be the type of player that gets the supporters out of their seat, and he's exciting."
That enthusiasm has Apollon working hard during training camp to show the staff just how good he can be for the team.
“I just kind of savored it for the first couple days and then knowing it was a quick turnaround, I had to get back up there in the preseason and keep working,” Apollon said.
“And now it's up to him to secure a starting spot,” Briggs said.
Apollon was born in Boston but moved to Haiti during his early teenage years. He didn't start playing soccer until he was 17 years old.
“Honestly, it's life-changing to have this opportunity, and given where I've been and what I've been through, to actually be home and show myself at home,” he told FOX40.
The first chance to catch Apollon in action will be at their pre-season match coming up on Saturday, Feb. 29, with a 6 p.m. start at Papa Murphy's Park.