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.
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.