BROOKLINE, MA — While the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team was defending its World Cup gold in France and the U.S. Men’s National Team was fighting its way to the CONCACAF Gold Cup final in Chicago, one man with ties to Brookline was making a soccer run as memorable as any. Only, his was with the Haitian Men’s National Soccer Team.
Zachary Herivaux, who has citizenship in the United States, Japan and Haiti, helped the Haitian squad to five straight victories to begin Gold Cup play. The team eventually suffered a 1-0 loss — giving up a goal in extra time — to Mexico in the Gold Cup semifinals. But the lead up to that was one of the great soccer stories this season.
As Mexico celebrated as champions on the Solder Field turf after its 1-0 victory against the U.S. on Sunday night, Haiti was celebrated for its grit and determination as it rallied past Costa Rica and Canada. Then it went on to fend off Mexico for more than 90 minutes with no score.
“We were talking about it as a team and how special it is,” said Herivaux, who went to Brookline’s Beaver Country Day school and who now plays for the New England Revolution. “Players were getting very emotional because it’s more than just soccer. It’s more than just a tournament. It’s just something for Haiti to be proud of.”
Haiti has been roiled with political turmoil in recent months.
“Before this tournament, they were breaking things, having protests against the government and all of those things,” he said. “After us being able to perform in the Gold Cup, and being able to bring so much joy to the country, instead of destroying things, they were coming together, and celebrating as one, and cheering for something. It’s just so beautiful, and it hit all of hearts, and made us want to push more for the country.”
Herivaux came to Revolution and the Gold Cup with one of the most diverse backgrounds in the sport. The 23-year-old was born in Osaka, Japan, where his father, Pedro, who was born in Haiti, played professionally. Herivaux’s mother, Miki, was born in Japan. His cousin, Naomi Osaka, happens to be one of the top women’s professional tennis players in the world and reigning US Open and Australian Open champion.
He joined the Revolution Academy in 2010, and in 2015 became the third-ever homegrown player signed to the Major League Soccer team.
“I always had hoped to play for the first team ever since growing up as a kid, and growing up around Shalrie (Joseph), and other players that played for New England,” he said. “They always instilled a lot of confidence in me to be able to play for the Revs. Even when I got my first call-up to train with the first team, after that training session I knew I could compete at that level, and I knew it was a realistic goal for me. Ever since then, I’ve put that in my head, pushed for it to see where it could go, and now I’m here.”
He has spent some time with the Revolution, and some time on loan to Birmingham Legion FC and San Antonio FC of the United Soccer League, and in 2017 got the call to the Haitian Men’s National Team — making his debut at a friendly in Japan.
“It was a special day for me to not only just represent Haiti, but to be able to represent Haiti in Japan in front of my family,” he said. “It was the first time my grandfather got to see me play live and it was a special day for me with a lot of emotions going through my head. It’s a day I’ll never forget.”
He has made 10 appearances with the Revolution since his debut in 2016 at 19 years old. He said he wants to continue to be a role model for young New England players to show that they can make it in the sport — and maybe even with their hometown team.
“Being local just gives hope for others,” he said, “and literally going through every youth stage possible to be here is a very proud moment for me, and I just want to keep inspiring others.”
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