Former Kitsap Pumas star Joaquin Rivas continues to feature for the defending USL champions Sacramento Republic as they close in on reaching a second consecutive playoffs place.
With only four games left in their 2015 regular season the Republic, who currently sport a record of 11-8-5, are still fighting to clinch that playoff spot in a tightly contested Western Conference. With first and seventh place separated by only seven points, every match and each player rostered could mean the difference between glory and an abrupt exit to a long season.
Rivas, who played a pivotal role in the Pumas 2014 run that ended with a loss to the Michigan Bucks in the Premier Development League National Final, has dedicated his life to pursuing his passion for soccer, and as a result has experienced a lot of success. After being named the Gatorade Player of they Year in Nevada as a senior in high school, Rivas received a scholarship to play at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While playing for the Rebels, Rivas became one of the top forwards in his conference.
Consistently featuring in the lineup for the Rebels all four seasons, Rivas finished with a total of 11 goals and 4 assists in 67 games. His outstanding play in college caught the eye of the Kitsap Pumas coaching staff and after traveling to Bremerton, Washington to tryout they wasted no time in signing the technical and creative forward.
“Joaquin was a player that immediately stood out to the coaching staff during tryouts. He’s got great awareness to bring other people in to play and has the ability to finish with both feet.” said Head Coach of the Pumas Cameron MacDonald.
Rivas quickly became one of Kitsap’s main players and consistently performed well for the club. In total, Rivas appeared in 17 games for the Pumas, starting 16, had 2 assists and scored 6 goals including a pivotal goal in the PDL national semifinal against Ocala Stampede.
“My summer with Kitsap was a time I will never forget,” recalled Rivas. “From the very first day I arrived to the last day everything was just right. I had a great experience with many great players I wish I could play with in the near future.”
After the PDL season ended, Rivas returned home to Las Vegas to figure out his next step in his career. Following an open-tryout Rivas was asked to come to preseason with the Republic.
Rivas’ high work rate and his consistent performance in preseason workouts, which was capped by a brilliant goal against the New York Cosmos of the NASL in a preseason friendly, got him signed by the club.
“I learned so much in just 3 months at Kitsap and I believe that was the key for me to get into the USL this year,” Rivas said. “Even though Kitsap was a great club to play for I must say Sacramento is something special. The fans, the city and the soccer are just outstanding here. The level of quality players and excellent coaching has really helped me to develop even more throughout this whole season.”
Since being signed by the Republic Rivas has featured in 11 games including 6 starts in which he has created one assist.
“The biggest transition for me since making the jump from the PDL to the USL has been adjusting to my new role” said Rivas. “When I was at Kitsap I started almost every game but since joining Sacramento I have had to accept a less significant role. However saying that, I am grateful for even being a part of this great organization and hope to continue to play for them in the future.”
Although Rivas has recently not received the amount of playing time he has become accustomed to over the past few years, his passion for the game remains at an all time high.
“Even though I have a new role doesn’t mean that I wont keep trying harder everyday at training,” said Rivas. “I will always give it my 100% even if it’s a light recovery training session because soccer is my passion and I want to keep improving for as long as I get to play.”
Rivas is yet another example of an ex-Kitsap player who exemplifies the commitment and dedication it takes to be a top professional player. As the USL season winds down, it will surely be interesting to see the impact Rivas will make for the Republic as well as for wherever he ends up in the future.