FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution constantly strive to develop their players at all levels, and the newest product has come to fruition as the Revs have called upon another young, talented Academy athlete, Damian Rivera, as the club’s seventh-ever Homegrown signing.
At only 16-years-old, Rivera has played as an Academy midfielder for over three seasons. What makes this next chapter of his career signing to the first team so special is that as a New England native from Cranston, R.I., Rivera will be playing for the MLS squad he has long admired.
“Since I was a young kid, I always wanted to be a soccer player so I’m blessed to have the opportunity,” said Rivera.
“It’s a special moment for me. I grew up watching the New England Revolution play. Even before the Academy, I watched games and to now play on the field with the people I grew up watching, it’s a good moment.”
“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,” said sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena. “We look forward to seeing him continue to develop and grow with the Revolution.”
These tools have been evident as Rivera has played both for the Academy and previously Bayside FC. What makes him stand out on the pitch is not only his talent level, but also his initiative he has as he takes on players and challenges his opponents.
“[Damian] is one of those players that’s very comfortable in one-on-one situations,” said Director of Youth Development Bryan Scales. “He’s very comfortable in one-versus-two situations. He’s a guy that will set up or score goals.”
In Rivera’s time with the Revolution Academy, these play making qualities speak for themselves. The midfielder scored 41 goals in 90 appearances with the U-14, U-16, U-17 and U-19 levels in his three plus seasons. He will now be the youngest player on the current first-team roster – succeeding 18-year-old Nicolas Firmino – and he’s the second-youngest signing in Revolution history next to Diego Fagundez, who joined at 15 years old in 2010.
While Riviera may be young, he is ready for any challenges this new chapter throws his way.
“He’s sixteen and while we still want to protect him, we still want to throw him in the deep end and he’s going to have moments where things are frustrating or things don’t work the way he thought they were going to work, but he should be certainly equipped to deal with those challenges,” said Scales.
“With all the support that he has around him here within the club, his future is bright. We’re excited for him to take this next step.”
To top it off, Rivera has received his first-ever call up to the U-17 National Team for a training camp, in which he will play as one of only 20 players at this high level in Lakewood, Fla. from November 11-19.
“He’s always been on their radar and they want to see how he does against international competition,” said Scales.
“These things are coming fast and furious for Damian and he’ll be ready for his moments. It’s exciting.”