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Kickers Sign Richmond United Midfielder Damian Gallegos

By Nathan Heintschel, Director of Digital Media, 07/14/21, 4:40PM EDT

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The Mechanicsville native is the first USL Academy contract signing for Chief Sporting Officer and Head Coach Darren Sawatzky

RICHMOND, Va. – The Richmond Kickers are pleased to announce the signing of Richmond United midfielder Damian Gallegos to a USL Academy contract, pending league and federation approval. Gallegos will be available for selection Saturday when the Kickers host Fort Lauderdale CF at City Stadium. 
 
"Damian has worked very hard as a youth player to put himself in a position to play college soccer at VCU,” Richmond Kickers’ Chief Sporting Officer and Head Coach Darren Sawatzky said. “He had a great ECNL playoffs scoring five goals and capping off a good academy season. It is important that we respect that work and reward the level of training he has brought to Kickers pro training each day.
 
“This is a deserved opportunity and we are looking to help him launch from the Richmond United opportunity to his opportunity at VCU. We want to bring in players aspiring to get to the next level, and if you are good enough, you are old enough."

Photo © Jessica Stone Hendricks Photography

Gallegos (18), a native of Mechanicsville, Va., has played for Richmond United for the last six years. Previously, he was a Richmond Kickers Youth player as a member of the U12 Elite team, and as a member of the travel teams starting at U9.
 
“Originally, Coach [Michael] Callahan from Richmond United initiated the talk between Coach Sawatzky and me,” Gallegos said. “We started a scouting process where Coach Darren came to watch our games and training sessions, and it progressed to him reaching out and starting the conversation of when I could get out to the Kickers’ practice.
 
“I was really excited and a little bit nervous at first coming out here. But after that I really got to experience the professional environment, and I’m just really excited to continue and progress through Coach Darren and learn from him.”

Photo © Jessica Stone Hendricks Photography

Gallegos began training with the first team earlier this summer and he slotted into the team’s culture quickly exhibiting his industrious play, intelligence, and humility.
 
"The Richmond Kickers pro team is about the community and we want to represent that community well,” Sawatzky said. “Damian is from the local youth soccer community and he embodies character in his approach. I think the speed of play and speed of thought in the pro training will help him as he grows, but he is a natural in our culture because he is humble, works hard, and he appreciates the opportunity to play with us before he heads off to college."
 
The oldest of three brothers, Gallegos is the first to reach the top of the Richmond-area soccer pyramid while his brothers Marcos (17) plays for the Richmond Kickers Youth and Mateo (12) plays for the Richmond United after previously playing for the Richmond Kickers Youth.

Photo © Jessica Stone Hendricks Photography

"All of us at Richmond United are incredibly proud of Damian and wish him all the best in this next step in his soccer career,” ECNL Director Sascha Görres said. “For six years he has represented Richmond United well with his incredible ability, hard work, focused approach and humility. As the eighth Richmond United player signing with the Richmond Kickers team on a USL Academy contract, his pathway is another great example of young players earning the opportunity to represent the Richmond community at the professional level."
 
Gallegos will continue to play and train with the Kickers through the summer before he joins Head Coach Dave Giffard’s side at VCU at the start of the 2021 Fall semester.
 
“I’m really proud and excited to have this experience playing for the first team of my hometown club,” Gallegos said. “I know there are a couple players who have done this before, and I'm just really glad to be the next one to be introduced through an Academy contract.”
 
The Kickers return to action Saturday night at City Stadium when they host Fort Lauderdale CF -- the MLS affiliate to David Beckham’s Inter Miami. Kickoff is slated for 6:30 p.m. Tickets are still available for the match at richmondkickers.com/tickets. The match will also air live on WTVR CBS 6.3 (Comcast 206, Verizon FiOS 466) and will be streamed on ESPN+.

Photo © Jessica Stone Hendricks Photography

TRANSACTION: Richmond Kickers have signed midfielder Damian Gallegos to an academy contract for the 2021 USL League One season on July 14, 2021.