Since joining Real Salt Lake Academy, defender Luis Rivera has made an impact at every level, making appearances both the U-15 and U-17 levels, even starting a few matches with Real Monarchs at the MLS NEXT Pro level.

During this season alone, Rivera has helped the RSL Academy U-15 team advance to the Quarterfinals of the 2022 Generation Adidas Cup, an undefeated run through MLS NEXT Flex and MLS NEXT Fest, and the third-best record in the West Division during regular-season play.

Additionally, during the 2022 Generation Adidas Cup Rivera was named to the Best XI, the only U15-aged defender to earn the honor and the youngest to appear on the entire list.

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Growing up in El Paso, Texas, the defender spent most of his time with a ball at his feet. When he wasn’t in the classroom, or with family, he was on the pitch. Modeling his game after Sergio Ramos, Rivera is a fast, aggressive defender who looks to control the game from the backline. His confidence on the ball allows him to make driving runs forwards, much like a midfielder would, while also having the ability to go toe-to-toe with the best forwards.

Rivera attributes much of his development to the coaching staff, especially Head Coach Andrew May. “He made me the player I am. He’s helped me improve so much from when I first got here. He’s a very good coach and all the other coaches are making me a better player.”

Not only has the defender found success within the RSL Academy ranks, but also with the U-15 United States Youth National Team. Rivera started in each fixture of the Torneo delle Nazioni this spring, anchoring the backline for the Stars and Stripes against Belgium and Slovenia.

The El Paso native is looking forward to competing in MLS NEXT Cup, flying high with lots of confidence. “I don’t care who we’re playing, we’re winning MLS NEXT Cup.”