One week ago, Sidney Rivera put pen to paper and signed with Reno 1868 FC. On Sept. 22, he will suit up against Las Vegas Lights FC in his return to the USL and professional soccer.
Six goals in seven matches with Atlantic City FC of the National Premier Soccer League over the summer were enough to propel Rivera to the opportunity. It has been nearly three years since Rivera has played in the USL. He’ll now look to help Reno (12-7-9) take the next step this season.
“It’s professional soccer man, getting into a professional environment,” Rivera said. “It’s an opportunity from here on for me to come in and help the team make a playoff run. It was a no brainer for me, really.”
Rivera’s stint with Atlantic City was his second in the NPSL. He spent time with Virginia Beach City FC in the summer of 2014 during his time starring in college for Old Dominion University.
The forward scored 11 goals in 48 appearances at Old Dominion. Virginia Beach City FC helped him get extra time on the pitch. His recent NPSL stint with ACFC came at a much different stage in his career, looking to make his way back to the professional ranks. He found that he had changed, and so had the league.
“It’s cool to see the growth,” Rivera said. “New teams coming in every year. The strength of competition getting stronger, it was definitely nice to see, and good to be a part of the growth and it’s helped me as well along my journey.”
Rivera was surprised by the soccer culture in Atlantic City. The immigrants that worked in and around the casinos are a large part of the city that embraces the game. Rivera and his family enjoyed the community, and his father even spent time helping out with the team.
“Sid was an outstanding contributor to our team in every way,” Atlantic City FC Team President Andrew Weilgus said. “From working with local kids to representing Atlantic City FC at area functions, Sid was everything you could ask for in a captain and we are thrilled to see him push on with his career, it is well deserved.”
Rivera’s soccer career that began in New York has led him to Virginia, Florida, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, back to New Jersey and now Reno. He says that soccer has blessed him with the chance to have roots all over the country, and to ultimately see the world.
In late 2015, Rivera was released by Orlando City SC of the MLS. He then embarked on a journey to the Caribbean for two years, to play forward for Puerto Rico FC. The move re-energized his career.
“Puerto Rico was amazing,” Rivera said. “It was really the start of my professional career. At the end of my first year I was up for young player of the year, I got a good run of games in and I took the growth and the learning from my first year in Orlando and I was able to implement it on the field.”
On Sept. 22, Rivera will be thrown into the fire in his first match for another new team, this time as a professional again. On the ascent again.
“I’m just acclimating myself, little by little, just waiting for tomorrow,” Rivera said. “Game time.”
Contributor: Jeff Helfrich/ISNSoccer.com
Photo Credit: http://www.johndimaiophotography.com/