La­chine lad goes pro

Le Messager Lachine & Dorval - - LOCAL NEWS - DA­VID COX da­vid.cox@tc.tc

SPORTS. A life-long de­di­ca­tion to soc­cer has led to a dream come true for one young man from La­chine. Af­ter spen­ding the last th­ree sea­sons playing with the Ma­jor League Soc­cer (MLS) Mon­treal Im­pact aca­de­my team, Lu­ca Ric­ci was si­gned as a star­ter by the Phoe­nix Ri­sing Foot­ball Club in the Uni­ted Soc­cer League, the lar­gest Di­vi­sion 2 pro­fes­sio­nal league in the world.

Ric­ci spent his life wor­king to­wards a ca­reer as a pro­fes­sio­nal ath­lete, de­di­ca­ted to constant im­pro­ve­ment. He made his de­but in the Na­tio­nal Ca­na­dian Youth Pro­gram at 15, then joi­ned the Im­pact’s aca­de­my which hel­ped him be­come a re­gu­lar squad player and train to be­come a star­ter for the first team.

The move up to the pro club team came in 2017, and it was a cross­roads for the young man. "I love the Im­pact but I was not on the first team. In or­der to grow as a player, I nee­ded more time on the field. That was where Phoe­nix came in," Ric­ci ex­plains.

In De­cem­ber, the mid­fiel­der and his agent star­ted the pro­cess for him to join ano­ther team. He had the choice bet­ween Ot­ta­wa and Phoe­nix clubs. "I wan­ted to know what it was like on my own and though both clubs are away from home, Phoe­nix had a bet­ter op­por­tu­ni­ty wai­ting for me," he says. A month and a half la­ter, he was prac­ti­cing for his first match in the Uni­ted Soc­cer League as a Phoe­nix Ri­sing mid­fiel­der.

HOME TURF

Though he has had to move away to im­prove as a pro­fes­sio­nal player, Ric­ci sees him­self re­tur­ning home. His goal is to play full time and do­mi­nate in the lo­wer tier Uni­ted Soc­cer League (USL), then re­turn to the Im­pact in Oc­to­ber. He concedes that soc­cer is un­pre­dic­table and he might en­joy it in the USL too much to go back.

The chances of that are a lit­tle slim, as his heart lies in Mon­treal. His pas­sion for both the Im­pact and his fa­mi­ly is strong.

"Num­ber one is my fa­mi­ly. I am ve­ry close to them. I would ra­ther stay with them on a Fri­day night than go out. My two bro­thers took my lea­ving hard, but I see this op­por­tu­ni­ty as so­me­thing I have wor­ked for my whole life. I sa­cri­fi­ced my youth and a re­gu­lar child­hood so mo­ving away was not going to stop me," he says. Suf­fe­ring from a mi­nor in­ju­ry, he still in­tends to play on Fe­brua­ry 17 against Kan­sas Ci­ty.

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