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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England Revolution II is quickly approaching their season opener on March 27 at New York City FC II, where they will kick off against a regional rival to start their 2022 slate.

As Revolution II enters its third campaign – with the first two seasons in USL League One and now joining as one of 21 clubs in MLS NEXT Pro – the second team has already created a direct pathway for athletes to rise to the first team. When the first team reported in early January, it gave young athletes signed to that roster and who may typically get regular minutes with Revolution II, an opportunity to train consistently with the club's experienced MLS veterans.

Both Damian Rivera and Noel Buck signed with the first team ahead of the 2020 and 2022 campaigns, respectively, and both trained in preseason this year with the first team in Los Angeles, California. After several weeks of learning and working alongside last year’s Supporters' Shield winners, the duo is now gearing up for the Revolution II opener.

Spending quality time with the first team allowed them to grow their skillsets against MLS competitors with preseason matches against LAFC and the LA Galaxy. These minutes against league competitors prepared the duo for upcoming important and regular minutes with Revolution II to add to their development.

“I think one part of my game that I was working on throughout preseason was more on the defensive side,” said Rivera. “I think attacking-wise I'm good, but I think there's still improvement to be made on defense.

“The coaches are telling me defense is important, as well, and I think during the preseason, I did a better job.”

Meanwhile, after Buck’s inaugural preseason with the first team, his belief and self-assurance has grown.

“I think I can bring a little bit of experience having gone through the first team preseason,” said Buck, “And I think my confidence. I'm running on a lot of confidence right now and I think I can really bring it this year.”

Revolution II has truly created a pipeline program to the first team – five players have made the jump already – and for head coach Clint Peay, it has been a rewarding process.

“What we've been tasked to do here is to try to promote guys from whether it be our academy or guys we bring in and get them to be potential first-team guys, so the fact that we've had some success early in this process with this ‘two’ team has been wonderful as a member of the staff and something that we obviously want to continue to build upon,” said Peay.

Revolution II is set to open the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season on Sunday, March 27, when they travel to face New York City FC II at Belson Stadium in Queens, N.Y., at 5 p.m. ET (streaming on MLSNEXTPro.com).