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Paris Bound! Rising FC’s Rocco Rios Novo, Argentina earn Olympic berth

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 02/13/24, 9:47AM EST


Victory against Brazil to close final qualifying group sent Albiceleste into Men’s Soccer tournament at Paris 2024 Olympics

Phoenix Rising FC's Rocco Rios Novo and his Argentina U-23 National Team teammates celebrate clinching their place at the Men's Soccer tournament 2024 Paris Olympics | Photo courtesy AFA

Phoenix Rising FC goalkeeper Rocco Rios Novo and the Argentina U-23 Men’s National Team earned their place at the Men’s Soccer Tournament for the 2024 Paris Olympics this summer as a 1-0 victory against defending Gold medalist Brazil secured a top-two finish for the Albiceleste in the final group stage of CONMEBOL Qualifying in Venezuela.

Rios Novo served as a back-up goalkeeper to starter Leandro Brey during the tournament. He was one of two United States-based players called up by Argentina Head Coach Javier Mascherano for the tournament alongside Atlanta United FC star Thiago Almada.

Needing a victory to jump past Brazil in the round-robin final stage, a 78th-minute goal by Luciano Gondou of Argentinos Juniors sent Argentina to victory and five points, good for second place to Paraguay in the group and a place in Paris.

The 21-year-old Rios Novo was a standout for Phoenix in 2023 as the side claimed its first USL Championship title, making two saves in a decisive penalty shootout against the Charleston Battery in the 2023 USL Championship Final to earn MVP honors. Rios Novo recorded 116 saves across the regular season and playoffs at a save percentage of 73.1 percent while also notching a -6.58 goals-prevented mark, which brought him to the attention of Argentine legend Mascherano as he built out his squad for this February’s tournament.

Rios Novo is set to return to Phoenix and will begin preparation for the 2024 USL Championship season which sees Rising FC plays host to Birmingham Legion FC at 9:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 9 at Phoenix Rising Stadium at 38th St. and Washington.

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