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THE MORNING TEA: The Inside Story on Reno’s Rivas

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 03/06/20, 7:30AM EST


Rowdies hope rebuilt back line leads to title contention; Louisville makes splash with Gomez’s signing

Get up, people, it’s the first day of the 2020 USL Championship season!

Here’s your morning tea.



As he rose through the ranks from youth soccer, to college, to last year’s arrival at Reno 1868 FC, no-one ever questioned Sergio Rivas’ ability or dedication.

“In most of the games, he led our team in distance covered,” 1868 FC Head Coach Ian Russell told Bleacher Report Magazine’s Mirin Fader. “That's his determination, his will to win, to cover ground, to compete.”

But there’s been a persistent cloud hanging over Rivas’ head as he pursued reaching the top of the game in the United States.

As an undocumented immigrant whose family arrived in Albuquerque, New Mexico when he was seven years old, Rivas fails to meet the requirements to be considered a domestic player in Major League Soccer.

Add in the current political climate surrounding immigration and envisioning what the future will hold becomes even murkier for a player that ranked as the No. 3 prospect in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft class after a remarkable college career at Seattle University.

Rivas’ situation isn’t unique in the Championship’s history. Previously, Miguel Aguilar competed first on loan for the Richmond Kickers and then for the LA Galaxy II after obtaining a work permit under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals act. Two years ago, Aguilar told his story in a first-person piece for The Players’ Tribune.

That story has echoes in Fader’s outstanding long-form piece on Rivas, who could kick off his second season with 1868 FC tonight against Tacoma Defiance after injury curtailed his rookie season last year.

In terms of storylines to follow throughout 2020, though, Rivas’ drive to achieve his goal of a place in the top flight with the San Jose Earthquakes is one that bears close attention on several levels.



Orange County SC vs. El Paso Locomotive FC


10 p.m. ET |
Venue: Championship Soccer Stadium Predictor: OC Wins 54% | Draw 25% | ELP Wins 20%
The Gist: Two of last season’s postseason sides kick off the 2020 campaign with a chance to make a statement, but Orange County could be tough to knock off with the return of Thomas Enevoldsen and arrival of Sean Okoli to lead the attack against Locomotive FC’s defense.
Projected Lineup: Aaron Cervantes; Kevin Alston, Michael Orozco, Rob Kiernan, Blake Malone; Seth Casiple, Aodhan Quinn; Darwin Jones, Thomas Enevoldsen, Brian Iloski; Sean Okoli
Discipline: Suspended: Harry Forrester
Projected Lineup: Logan Ketterer; Bryam Rebellon, Chiro N’Toko, Drew Beckie, Andrew Fox; Yuma, Richie Ryan, Distel Zola; Dylan Mares, Marios Lomis, Alexy Bosetti
Discipline: Suspended: Omar Salgado

Tacoma Defiance vs. Reno 1868 FC


10 p.m. ET |
Venue: Cheney Stadium Predictor: TAC Wins 28% | Draw 24% | RNO Wins 48%
The Gist: Reno 1868 FC hits the road to start its new campaign, and has never lost against the Defiance in six previous meetings between the clubs
Projected Lineup: Trey Muse; Nick Hinds, Taylor Mueller, Sam Rogers, Leo Burney; Alex Roldan, Jesse Daley; Shandon Hopeau, Josh Atencio, Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez; Alec Diaz
Discipline: None
Projected Lineup: Matt Bersano; Brent Richards, Thomas Janjigian, Tony Alfaro, Ayrton Statie; Gilbert Fuentes, Kevin Partida, Christiano Francois; Corey Hertzog, Foster Langsdorf, Aidan Apodaca
Discipline: None




- You’ve asked for it, and now you’ve got it. Ahead of the new season, the USL App is now available for download through the Apple App Store and Google Play Marketplace.

- You want predictions? We’ve got predictions. Myself, Kelsi Steele, Mike Watts, Devon Kerr, and Jeff Rueter have made our picks for how the 2020 Championship season will play out.

- Over the week, we’ve been looking at which players could make a difference on the field in the upcoming season. Get a look at the Goalkeepers, Defenders, Midfielders and Forwards to Watch in 2020.

- After casting an eye over the Western Conference previously, The Athletic’s Jeff Rueter and Joseph Lowery have six big questions for the Championship’s Eastern Conference in 2020, including whether its top teams are even better than before?

- Orange County SC is looking like one of the main challengers to Phoenix Rising FC in 2020, and Angels on Parade's Alicia Rodriguez found spirits were high at the club as it prepared to face El Paso Locomotive FC to kick off the new season.

- Locomotive FC enters its second campaign with high hopes as well after reaching last year's Western Conference Final in its inaugural season. The El Paso Times' Bret Bloomquist has everything you need to know about a side that could be a title contender come October.

- As they pursue a title in 2020, the Tampa Bay Rowdies have a rebuilt defense including goalkeeper Evan Louro and center back Forrest Lasso. The Tampa Bay Times’ Rodney Page took a look at the changes.

- Their paths to North Carolina FC may have differed, but there are now four alumni of the North Carolina State Men’s Soccer program suiting up for Head Coach Dave Sarachan. The Technician’s Nicholas Schnittker caught up with the NCFC quartet.

- Louisville City FC announced a notable new arrival on Thursday as 16-year-old U.S. Youth International Jonathan Gomez joined the professional ranks with the club. As the Louisville Courier-Journal’s Hayes Gardiner writes, Gomez is the youngest signing in LouCity’s history.

- Since launching the Tidewater Landing proposal in December, project leader Brett M. Johnson has been overwhelmed by the positive responses he’s received. He spoke with Tanner Rebelo for an in-depth Q&A.

- USL Vice President of Communications & Public Relations Ryan Madden was the guest on the My 3 Subs podcast hosted by Tim Van Horn, providing an overview of not just the Championship, but also League One and League Two in 2020.

- The Philadelphia Union II will have a new jersey sponsor for the 2020 season, with Sun East Federal Credit Union partnering with the team.

- Loudoun United FC has also extended its partnership with The National Conference Center, which will be front and center on the club’s new uniforms.

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