“You want to reach and elevate that standard” | Lima targets trophy success in ‘exciting’ new chapter with Revs

10_7_23 Nick Lima

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New recruit Nick Lima says the New England Revolution’s ambition has proven a major factor in his excitement to join the club.

Under contract with the Revs through the 2024 MLS season, the veteran defender makes the move to Gillette Stadium from Austin FC, having clocked more than 200 combined appearances in all competitions with both The Verde and Black, and the San Jose Earthquakes.

Highly competitive and driven both on and off the pitch, Lima asserts he is delighted to have committed to a team whose aspirations match his own, and is looking forward to taking his game to the next level in Foxborough.

“I’m excited,” he stated. “It’s a club that’s had a lot of success in the past, and I’m happy to be a part of it. As a player, the most important thing is to go to a team where you have the chance to win, and doing what provides you that opportunity year in, year out.

“Especially over my career lifespan, the club has been consistent in the aspect of being at the top or near the top every year, and they have such good players: Carles Gil and other guys you hear about. That’s something you want to go into – there’s a standard, and you want to reach that standard, but also help elevate it a bit, too, to that trophies come, as well.

“That’s the goal of the organization. I know the club also has good fans, and it seems like the turnout at Gillette is getting better and better. You can see the amount of fans that turn out, so there’s quantity, but I know the quality of fan is also very high.

“I hope to bring a standard, a level of competitiveness, and experience and leadership. I’ve been in the league for a while now – there are a lot of [Revs] guys who have, as well – and I hope to be another key piece in that aspect: that we can grow from and continue to compete every game. I hope to bring some of that and success as we go forward.

“As a person, and a husband, and a father, we’re excited about the city, too, because New England as a whole and Boston here locally is a really cool spot, and I’ve only heard good things about it all. Everyone knows that it’s a sports city but it’s not just any sports city – it’s a city that has had a lot of success, a lot of trophies. That will be cool, and I hope to add to that as part of this city.”

Readying himself for his eighth year in MLS, Lima has built a reputation as an experienced, consistent and reliable right back, featuring in all bar one league game for Austin since the start of the 2022 campaign.

Also carrying a notable offensive threat, the fullback has notched eight goals and 16 assists throughout his career, standing alongside new Revs teammate DeJuan Jones as one of only five defenders to have recorded five assists in each of his last two league seasons.

Describing his playing style, the 29-year-old highlighted his key strengths, adding he believes New England’s system and strategy also aligns perfectly with his attributes, as well as his ambition.

“There’s a personal aspect of the way New England plays,” he continued. “As an attacking fullback, it’s something that fits the way I can play, and how I prefer to play – to be an additional attacker at times is how I pride myself in the way I play.

“I like to get forward when I can, but I also like to be aggressive on the defensive side, as well. The aggression defensively – making a team hard to beat – but also doing that same thing going forward of: ‘I’m going to beat you in the attack.’

“Off the pitch, I’m pretty similar to the way I am on the pitch – I’m always competitive, I’m always looking to improve, and anything I do, I kind of overdo. I think that’s to my wife’s frustration sometimes! I just like to be educated and versed in what I get myself into, but I like to have fun. It’s all about fun – if you’re not having fun, you’re probably doing the wrong thing or something’s not right.

“When you’re playing that way, and you’re playing amongst guys that are talented (as you know and as people see when they play this team), there’s always room for development because every day, you go to training and that standard requires you to improve on the field and off the field. Leadership on and off the field [is really important] because those are all aspects that create success in a team, which then translates to on-field success.

“Once I stepped foot on the pitch with the Earthquakes in 2017, I knew I was going to be the best I could be for the team: a starter, a good teammate, all that kind of stuff; try to elevate the squad, and make playoffs. That was always my mentality and it stuck through my time in San Jose, then in Austin to here. I hope to be a good piece to this puzzle that ends up with a trophy at the end of it.”

Lima’s creative spark was in fact honed at the sharp end of the pitch. Previously employed as a forward, the 29-year-old shifted to the fullback role during his college days in his native California.

Having fallen in love with soccer at an early age, watching his older brothers play, he knew he wanted to pursue a career in sport. Though offered a scholarship to play American football, he opted to follow his passion for ‘the beautiful game’ and credits his professional career to his tactical switch.

“It has been a rollercoaster,” he smiled. “I played every sport in the book growing up even through high school, and soccer was the one that stuck through that, so by that, I knew that love was real.

“It was the competitive side of the game – the ability to be physical, but also the tactical aspect and soccer element: ‘the beautiful game’ that I fell in love with. I’d played American football growing up, I ran track, and there was a lot of athleticism, a lot of machismo in those sports, but soccer allows you to be strong, fast, fit, and also have a little bit of control.

“I always knew I wanted to be a pro – not saying I was going to be, but that was my mindset. In college at UC Berkeley, I got moved from a forward to a fullback and luckily enough, was able to get signed for the hometown team in San Jose. I’ve always been versatile in all the positions I’d played in football, track, hockey and soccer – a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ – but the positional switch was a challenge for me at first. I was a forward and I hated the move, but I knew I wanted to be a pro, so I had to make it work.

“At the time, I saw it as a personal thing from the coach, but then I saw it as more as a thing for me –something he saw I could succeed in, and he was right. From there, it was a great catalyst for my career and to play the way I played. Now, we’re here: eight years into a professional career. It was a challenge but I took it head-on, and now I love it because I get to be myself completely in the athleticism, the technical side, the competing side – defensively and attacking-wise. It’s a great position, and obviously a lot of talented guys and athletic guys in the league, in the world are playing this position.”

In addition to a professional career at club level, the defender’s proficiency in the fullback role also earned National Team recognition.

Lima has nine senior international caps to his name for the United States – the second of which he holds proudly as his greatest sporting moment (so far!).

“You never forget your debut – both for your club and the National Team,” he noted. “If there’s a single moment, I got to play my second game with the National Team in the home stadium of San Jose, so that was pretty cool. I had 150 to 200 friends and family there celebrating.

“Those big moments with the National Team are always going to stick out – representing your country. Then, there are playoff games – those games are always fun. There are quite a few big games, and I enjoy games that are say, in Colorado in a Wednesday night and it’s freezing! Those are the games where you compete just as hard as the other ones.”

Counting down the days to preseason, Lima is relishing the prospect of joining up with the Revolution squad.

Already acquainted with a handful of names on the Revs roster, the defender is eager to catch up with some old faces, whilst forging new partnerships – and the right back has been impressed with what he has seen of New England from afar.

“There are some familiar faces from the past,” he explained. “I know a couple of guys through the National Team, I’ve played against a lot of the guys; then obviously through the league, watching the league, and seeing some of the young guys especially, watching their success over the years.

“I exchanged some words with Tomás Chancalay when we played at Gillette earlier this year and tied [2-2]. I was on his side for most of the game. He was a good player, I liked the way he played – he definitely made me think in the ways of defending him. He’ll be exciting to play with. I can’t wait to face those shots!

Matt Polster, too – I’ve had some history playing with him – and then in terms of defensive partners, there’s DeJuan Jones. As a fullback, hopefully we’re on the sides together – one on each. He’ll be an exciting player to learn from, as well as be alongside. I’m looking forward to that, as well as meeting the other guys.”

The timing of Lima’s arrival sees the new recruit join a team in the process of building its own new era.

Preparing to install a new head coach and mold a competitive roster for the 2024 campaign, the Revolution’s offseason will be a busy one, and the defender is eager to play his part, as New England equip themselves for another challenge for silverware.

“Personally, it helps me because we’re all going to be in a new situation,” he said, “and I’m not coming into something that’s five, six, seven years created in, breaking the mold that’s had success in the past.

“I’m still going to have to adapt to what they have here, what they’ve established, but we’re all at ground zero – we’re all going to have to learn from a new coach, a new style, whatever it may be – but we all have the same goal in mind.

“The biggest challenge is that the league is continuing to grow every year. With the talent here, there’s no complacency for anyone in any position in this league – every year, you have to grow, you have to develop; see the potential to learn. If you don’t, then it’s the next guy up.

“It’s an ever-learning process, and that ability to learn and grow consistently is what I’ve learned the most. That’s what’s helped me and that’s what I have to continue to live by and adapt to, as I come here and hopefully make an impact.

“It will be fun to get in with the guys and assimilate quickly. It’s a long season – it’s even longer now with the format, the schedule and the tournaments, as well as the playoffs – so it’s going to be a whole year’s grind, starting right away in January.”