FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England Revolution head coach Brad Friedel has hinted at several changes coming ahead of the 2019 season, and the team’s first addition of the offseason has now officially been unveiled. The Revs have called upon another young, talented athlete through their Academy, Nicolas Firmino, as the club’s fifth-ever Homegrown signing.
The Somerville, Mass., resident has been with the Revolution Academy since before the 2014 fall season when he played at the Under-14 level, and now, at just 17 years old, he’s turned his childhood aspiration into his reality.
“It’s a dream come true,” Firmino said eagerly. “I’ve been dreaming of this ever since I was little. It really hasn’t hit yet, officially, but (I’m) really excited.”
In his four-plus years with the Academy, Firmino’s statistics speak for themselves. The box-to-box central midfielder scored more than 35 goals in more than 90 appearances, contributing across the U-14, U-16, U-17 and U-19 levels. He will now be the youngest player on the current first-team roster – supplanting 18-year-old Isaac Angking – and he’s the second-youngest signing in Revolution history next to Diego Fagundez, who joined at 15 years old in 2010.
Firmino’s time in the Academy provided opportunities to train with the first team, and in doing so, it has enabled him to learn firsthand what it takes to play at that higher level. Director of Youth Development Bryan Scales is confident that Firmino’s experience and diligent qualities will allow him to transition seamlessly.
“He’s been in with the first team quite a bit,” said Scales. “As he’s progressed through the Academy you could see that I think the most critical factor for him – his work rate, his competitiveness, his mentality – has been there, and that’s been developed over the last four or five years. He’s ready for it.”
The effort that Firmino has put in both with the Academy and when he has had an opportunity to train with the first team will also aid the Brazilian-born midfielder in this transition to the professional level. Firmino had the chance to train with the first team during 2018 preseason in Tucson, Ariz., and also attended the first-team away trips to Minnesota and New York last season through the Academy program.
“I’m really looking forward to [2019 preseason], because I’m a regular now,” said Firmino. “I need to earn my spot instead of just training with the guys, so that’ll be good.”
To augment it all, Firmino has some familiar faces that he has already played with on the first team. Angking, the club’s previously most-recent Homegrown signing, played alongside Firmino for four seasons before Angking joined the first team at the start of 2018, and the two developed a close bond.
“He’s kind of like a big brother to me,” said Firmino. “We played together for four years. I know him really well, and I’m sure he’ll help me through a lot of the growing pains and stuff like that.”
Between his raw talent, the valuable exposure he has gained through the Revolution Academy program, and the bonds he has begun to develop with the first team, the future looks promising for Firmino as he joins the established pipeline of Revolution Homegrown talent this upcoming season.