Luis Rivera became the 21st MLS NEXT Pro player to sign a contract with an MLS club. The 15-year-old is the youngest person to play in an MLS NEXT Pro game, and he did so at 14 years, 116 days when he stepped on the field versus Tacoma on March 22 last season. Below is the full press release on the player's signing.

Luis Rivera

Real Salt Lake have announced the signing of defender Luis Rivera from the Real Monarchs, to a contract through the 2026 season with a club option for 2027, making him the 35th all-time Homegrown Player to dawn the Claret-and-Cobalt across the Club’s 18 seasons in Major League Soccer. 

“As we have seen since joining our Academy, Luis is a gifted young player with incredible potential,” said RSL Technical Director Kurt Schmid, the long-time MLS executive now in his fourth year with the Utah club.  “Luis has proven talent for his age, combined with an exemplary work ethic to creates growth. He has demonstrated the versatility to play multiple positions and possesses a confidence on the ball unlike many defenders his age. We are excited to see how he continues to progress throughout his professional career here at RSL.”

At 15 years, 1 month and 5 days old, Rivera’s signing as a Homegrown Player makes him the second youngest signing in Club history, behind fellow Homegrown signee Axel Kei who was 14 years and 15 days in January of last year when he inked his Claret-and-Cobalt deal. He is the eighth-youngest in league history to sign a professional contract, surpassing former New York City FC defender Joe Scally by several months. 

In August of 2022, Rivera signed his first professional deal, joining the Club’s MLS NEXT Pro side, Real Monarchs. While with the Monarchs Rivera made four appearances, three of them starts. The defender made his professional debut as a substitute on March 27, 2022, against Tacoma Defiance, just three months after his 14th birthday.

Prior to becoming a professional, Rivera was part of the RSL Academy where he helped the 2021-22 U-15 team earn the third-best record in the West Division during regular-season play. The Texas-born defender also captained the team during their run to the 2022 MLS NEXT Cup final. During that run Rivera buried a penalty kick against Philadelphia Union to help send his side into the MLS NEXT Cup Quarterfinals.

In addition to his performance at the MLS NEXT Cup, Rivera previously helped the RSL Academy U-15 team advance to the Quarterfinals of the 2022 Generation Adidas Cup.  For his standout performance at the tournament he was named to the 2022 Generation Adidas Cup Best XI by MLSsoccer.com, the only U-15-aged defender to earn the honor and the youngest to appear on the entire list.

At the international level, Rivera has earned call-ups to the U-15 United States Youth National Team, starting for the Stars and Stripes against both Belgium and Slovenia.

Rivera joins current RSL Homegrowns Gavin Beavers, Julio Benitez, Andrew Brody, Justen Glad, Zack Farnsworth, Bode Hidalgo, Erik Holt, Axel Kei, Diego Luna, Jaziel Orozco and Jude Wellings. 

TRANSACTION: Real Salt Lake signs defender Luis Rivera From Real Monarchs as a Homegrown Player on January 6, 2023

Player Information

Name: Luis Rivera

Position: Defender

Height: 5’8"

Date of Birth: December 1, 2007

Age: 15

Birthplace: El Paso, Texas

Hometown: El Paso, Texas

Citizenship: United States

Last Club: Real Monarchs

How Acquired: Signed on January 6, 2023