With only minutes left on the clock, 19-year-old midfielder Zachary Herivaux approached the halfway line, preparing to make his professional debut for his hometown team. Herivaux, only the third Homegrown player in New England Revolution history, would soon hear his name bellow over the PA system as he replaced Daigo Kobayashi. It was an unforgettable moment for the youngster.
"It’s a blessing," Herivaux said. "It’s my hometown, my family’s here, a bunch of friends came to watch. The team was supportive of me and telling me ‘good luck’ when I get out there and just play my game. It’s a dream come true."
One major reason that Wednesday night was so special for Herivaux was because close friend and mentor Sharlie Joseph was in attendance. Herivaux, who actually sports the number 21 as homage, has worked with Joseph since he was 11 years old, even playing for the appropriately named Shalrie Joseph Soccer Club before joining the Revolution’s Academy.
Since being introduced, Joseph has served an advisory role in Herivaux’s career, helping provide guidance and support along the way. To see the Revolution legend in the crowd was encouraging for Herivaux as he readied to step onto Soldiers Field.
"He knows my abilities and he always makes me feel really confident when I play," Herivaux explained. "He was just wishing me luck and he knew how I’d do."
Unlike most substitutes, Herivaux was told that he’d be used ahead of time. This didn’t help ease nerves, however, as Herivaux was both anxious and excited in anticipation for the big day. To try to alleviate these feelings, the Massachusetts native visualized success, even turning to the video game FIFA for help.
"It’s every kid’s dream to play on FIFA, to play as yourself," Herivaux said. "I put myself up top, so I can score."
Herivaux wasn’t able to get a goal on Wednesday, despite the practice on FIFA and coach Jay Heaps’ inclination that a "special moment" would come. Still, the night was a success as Herivaux got his first touches in a professional game. This moment, albeit brief, will serve as motivation as Herivaux looks to take the next step forward.
"I’ve got my debut nerves out the way, so [I’ll] just keep training hard, progressing, and becoming better each and every day," Herivaux said.