By Tiffany Williams –
Cranston, Rhode Island native Damian “Tico” Rivera earned his first career MLS start Saturday night with the New England Revolution.
The 19-year-old Revolution Academy graduate in addition to now owning four MLS appearances, marked his first career MLS start with his first MLS goal in the opening minute of the contest.
During the post game press conference Rivera was asked about his progression over the last two seasons with Revolution II and he said “I progressed a lot in those two years. I think I’ve gotten more fit over the two years. And obviously I’m happy to get the goal there. I think over the last two years I’ve been working hard, and I got my chance and I proved it on the field.”
When asked about envisioning his first MLS goal while playing in the Revolution Academy, Rivera said “In the [Revolution] Academy I always used to go to the first team games and watching Gil play, I thought he was a spectacular player. And to play with him it’s incredible. Obviously, I wasn’t thinking about scoring a goal at that time with the first team. But to actually score a goal, I can’t describe the words.”
When asked about how his mentality has evolved as a professional, Rivera said “I think this year, definitely a big change for me. I think I’ve gotten more fit. Some of the guys here, you know, like, Jarryd and James have helped me. I feel fitter, and, you know, I just wanted to get a chance on the field. I did and I took the best of it.”
Prior to joining the Revolution Academy, Rivera spent time at Bayside FC and participated in Project Goal. He is the second Rhode Island native on the Revolution roster, joining fellow Academy player Isaac Angking, who is originally from Providence.