FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – For 18-year-old Fabio Machado, Jr., and a handful of teammates from the New England Revolution youth teams, this Saturday could be the first step in realizing a lifelong dream.
Machado is one of five Revs youth team players getting called up for New England’s first MLS Reserve Division game of the year against D.C. United.
The reserve game will be played on the Gillette Stadium field in Foxborough, Mass., just one hour after the first team plays United, and will be closed to the public. Machado and his teammates will be lacing up their boots alongside those who make their living playing soccer.
Three years ago during his tryout for the youth program, the Leominster native was hoping just to get a spot on the Revs’ entry in the U.S. Soccer Developmental Academy.
“Trying out here, I looked at one of the kid’s trying out and said ‘Man, imagine playing here,’” Machado said. “And now knowing that we might have the chance to make the reserve team or maybe (turn) pro – that just brings us up a lot.”
This season is the second go-around for Major League Soccer’s reserve league following a four-year run from 2005 to 2008. During the first installment, there was no academy program call-up system in place and MLS teams called in guest players as needed to fill out their rosters.
With the added benefit of evaluating youth system players this time, the Reserve Division has a completely different feel in 2011.
Bryan Scales, the Director of Youth Development for the Revolution, knows exactly what the reserve games will mean for his players.
“The Reserve Division gives all of our academy players something to look at and to shoot for when it comes to their goal of being a top soccer player,” Scales said. “These games will have pros in them. They’ll be fast, they’ll be stretched, and our guys will be challenged.”
And for a player like Machado, who recently completed his final season of soccer for Leominster High School, the challenge is one he has dreamt about.
“This chance is what we’ve been waiting for these last three years,” Machado said. “Each year, it’s going to get better and better for the kids to go up, so I am really excited for the chance.”
While Machado and his teammates are not guaranteed to see the field on Saturday, it will not be their only chance of the season. The Revs, and every MLS team, will play a 10-game reserve schedule with youth players eligible for each of the five home and five road games.