Heading into Saturday night’s match with Chicago Fire FC, D.C. United’s record stood at 1-3-1 in the young 2023 Major League Soccer. As their manager, legendary English striker Wayne Rooney was desperate to prevent a loss that would drop the club even further in the Eastern Conference standings, where they sat in 13th place. To do so, he called on Hayden Sargis for the very first time.
In the 96th minute of a scoreless tie between the two clubs, the 20-year-old took the pitch at Soldier Field in Chicago, officially making his MLS debut. He is the first Turlock native to appear in an MLS match.
The match would be called just a minute later, resulting in a 0-0 draw, but it’s one minute Sargis says he will never forget.
“It wasn't long at all that I was on the field, but before I got out there, I looked up at the big screen and I saw myself, and that just put a smile on my face,” he said.
Sargis explained that even the moments leading up to him being substituted into the game happened quickly, describing it was “whirlwind.”
“Actually, I wasn't expecting it all,” he said. “I was warming up for the past 20 minutes, stretching, staying loose, and I hear them call me over in around the 90th minute. Matter of fact, I actually didn't hear them and my teammate that was warming up with me was yelling me to run over and put shin guards on as quick as I can and go on the field.”
Following the debut, Sargis has been flooded with congratulatory texts, phone calls and social media posts from family, friends and former teammates.
“Everybody has been reaching out, telling me that they’re proud of me,” he said. “Making my MLS debut, it's a little reward for a lot of hard work that I've put in and hopefully more to come. It's a special feeling having a local fan base in Turlock support me even when I'm all the way across the country. It feels good and I'm extremely thankful for that.
“None of this would be possible without my with my parents [Antonio and Gina]. They're my best friends and to have them in my support system is why this is all possible and why I do it.”
Sargis joined D.C. United in Jan. of 2022, after the club acquired him from Sacramento Republic FC on a three-year deal through 2024, though there are contract options in 2025 and 2026. This is the first full season Sargis has had under Rooney and his staff.
“It’s been great,” Sargis said. “They're all super helpful and and whenever I need help or I want to stay after or do extra training or need advice, the whole staff is always willing to help.”
With the scoreless result on Saturday, D.C. United remains in 13th place in Eastern Conference standings.
The club will be back in action looking for their first win since Feb. 25 on Saturday when they take on the Columbus Crew at Audi Field in Washington D.C. at 4:30 PST. The match can be watched live on Apple TV while all D.C. United matches are available through MLS Season Pass.