FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution have signed Revolution Academy product Damian Rivera to a Homegrown Player contract ahead of the 2020 MLS season. The Cranston, R.I. native, who has been developing for more than three years in the Revolution Academy, becomes the seventh Revolution Academy product to earn promotion to the first team. Born in December 2002, the 16-year-old becomes the youngest current member of the first team, and the club’s second-youngest Homegrown Player signing to date.
In addition to signing his first professional contract, Rivera will participate in his first-ever international camp this November, when he will join the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team for a training camp in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. from Nov. 11-19. The midfielder is one of 20 players called in for the camp, which will be held in conjunction with the U-16 Boys’ National Team. The U-17s will play three games, opening against the U.S. U-16s (Nov. 14) before taking on the Netherlands U-16s (Nov. 16), and Turkey U-16s (Nov. 18).
“Of the many talented players we’ve observed in the Revolution Academy system, Damian was among the first who distinguished himself as a player with the tools needed to succeed at the professional level,” Sporting Director and Head Coach Bruce Arena said. “We look forward to seeing him continue to develop and grow with the Revolution.”
Rivera, who has also gone by the nickname “Tico”, joined the Revolution Academy ahead of the 2016-17 U.S. Soccer Development Academy season. He has since made a combined 90 appearances, including 67 starts, and scored 41 goals across the U-14, U-16, U-17, and U-19 levels. In the current 2019-20 campaign, Rivera is pacing the U-19 side with a team-high eight goals in only eight appearances, highlighted by a four-goal outing at D.C. United on Oct. 19.
“I’m really happy for this opportunity. It’s a special moment for me to join the Revolution, the club I grew up watching in Rhode Island,” Rivera said. “The Academy program and coaches have played a huge role in helping me get to where I am now, and now I’m looking forward to preseason, elevating my game, and seeing what I can contribute to the team.”
Rivera is the first Revolution Academy product to sign his MLS contract with New England under Sporting Director and Head Coach Bruce Arena. He joins six other Revolution Academy who have advanced to the first team ranks: Diego Fagundez, Scott Caldwell, Zachary Herivaux, Isaac Angking, Nicolas Firmino, and Justin Rennicks. Only Fagundez, who signed his first professional contract at the age of 15, joined the first team at a younger age from the Academy.
Prior to joining the Revolution Academy, Rivera developed at premier Rhode Island club Bayside FC, which is a member of the Revs’ U-12 Alliance and the club’s U-12 Regional Development League. Bayside has also helped develop Revolution Academy alumni such as Isaac Angking, the team’s fourth Homegrown Player signing, and the last two UnitedHealthcare Academy Players of the Year in Kevin Vang (2018) and Tyler Freitas (2019). In recognition of the club’s contributions to Rivera’s development, the Revolution will make a donation of $10,000 to Bayside FC.
Rivera also benefited from the support and programming of Project GOAL, an organization inspiring academic success through the passion and power of soccer. The coeducational after-school initiative provides 100-percent free programming to Rhode Island middle school youth, aiming to provide academic enrichment while building a foundation of social responsibility, teamwork, and collaboration in classrooms and on the field.
TRANSACTION: New England Revolution sign Revolution Academy product Damian Rivera as a Homegrown Player on Nov. 8, 2019.
Pronunciation: DAME-ee-in riv-AIR-uh
Hometown: Cranston, R.I.
Date of Birth: Dec. 8, 2002 (Cranston, R.I.)
Nationality: United States
Last Club: Bayside FC
Acquired: Revolution Academy product signed as a Homegrown Player on Nov. 8, 2019.