Recently, I had the chance to chat with the Revs’ youngest rostered player, Damian Rivera. The 17-year-old midfielder from Cranston, Rhode Island is gearing up for his first professional season with the Revolution, having grown up playing for their academy team. Here’s what he had to say about his journey, the locker room, and the upcoming season:
Tell me about your path to joining the Revolution.
I started off playing for Bayside, and then [the Revs] scouted me and I started going to RDS programs, and then from there I went to their academy. I was in their academy for about four years, and then they called me in to start training with the first team, and then I got a contract.
Was going professional always a goal of yours?
Yeah, since I started playing soccer when I was about eight. I always wanted to be a professional.
When did you think like, “Oh wow, I really have a shot of going pro?” Was there one moment or one game?
I think it was when I first got called into training with the first team. I thought to myself, I can get a contract if I keep playing well and just keep working hard.
Have there been any specific mentors to you in your soccer career?
I think my uncle. He goes to almost all my games. He always pushes me, and he’s never satisfied with me. He always tells me to keep working hard and I can keep going further.
You are the second youngest Homegrown player of all time [for the Revs], with only Diego Fagundez being younger than you when signing his first professional contract. Has Diego been specifically kind and outgoing to you? Have you built a good relationship with him?
I think I have a pretty good relationship with Diego. I look up to him, knowing he is the youngest homegrown [player] that’s ever been through the Revs. We’re kind of in a similar position too, so I look up to him.
Has there been any other player that’s been really useful in helping you transition? Have they made a good effort to reach out to you?
I think Andrew Ferrell. I’m next to him in the locker room. If I have any questions I can just go to him - he puts me in the right direction. When I first came into preseason, [he] asked me a couple questions and we started to get closer.
The Revs had a pretty productive offseason [bringing] in all these new signings. How have all these new faces gelled together?
I think every training we’re all getting closer. Every training you’re on a new team, and from that everyone just gets closer together, and we’re building the team up good.
Overall, how’s camp been going for you?
It’s been pushing me. [In the] offseason I think I prepared well, and I think I go in well with the group. Just gotta keep working hard.
The Revs just opened this new training facility. How has that been? Do you have a favorite part or room?
Yeah, I think it’s the perfect time to get signed with the new facility - it’s really nice. It’s a new start, and a fresh start with Bruce obviously. [My favorite parts are] the cold tub and the hot tub.
Do you have any particular goals for this season?
Obviously, I want to get minutes, but I’m not the coach. I just want to see what I can contribute to the team.
Besides signing your first pro contract, what has been your favorite memory in your soccer career so far?
When I was about 12 years old I was in a town game, and we were losing 3-0. We came back in the second half, and it was 3-3. In the last two minutes, we had a corner kick. It came in the air, and I biked it in. We won 4-3.
Do you play FIFA, and, if so, how cool is it gonna be to play as yourself?
I am actually a big FIFA player, but I don’t play as much now. Growing up I played FIFA a lot. When I heard I was on FIFA it was from my little brother, because he also plays. He was like “oh your on FIFA,” and I was like “really?”
Favorite European club team?
Favorite professional soccer player, excluding players on the Revs?
Favorite music artist?
Any pre-game rituals?
I like to listen to music
Favorite TV show?