With one phone call last Wednesday night, Christmas came early for UCF Knights forward Gino Vivi.
With the 23rd overall pick in the 2023 MLS SuperDraft, the L.A. Galaxy selected the Costa Rican native, making him just the 5th Knights player to ever go in the 1st round.
The moment Gino was selected ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/1jsdV9bYqe— UCF Men's Soccer (@UCF_MSoccer) December 22, 2022
Vivi joins the likes of DeShorn Brown (2012), Romario Williams (2015), Hadji Berry (2016), and Cal Jennings (2020).
“It’s just one more step forward in my career,” Vivi said in a video posted to the UCF Men’s Soccer Twitter account. “I’m really looking forward to it, but for you Knight Nation, the support these three and a half years has been unbelievable.”
With 19 goals and 23 assists over his career, Vivi climbed his way to a tie for 10th place on UCF’s all-time points list with Rami Vehmas (1996-99). His assist numbers alone put him in a tie for 5th place on the program’s all-time assist list with Rony Francois (1980-83). No Knight since the turn of the century has had more assists.
“Gino [Vivi] can create for himself, but he can also create for others,” Calabrese said after the Knights’ 2-1 victory over Charlotte. “So, he is often the one breaking the pressure, and once we break that pressure, now we have the ability to hurt a team and he’s really important in those moments.”
The Knights had a preview of life without Vivi during 2022, as the forward was out for several matches due to injury.
“The offense was stagnating when Gino [Vivi] wasn’t on the field and they were thriving when he was on the field,” said Austin David, the play-by-play announcer for the Knights on ESPN+. “I mean, it was a night and day difference between when he played and when he didn’t play.”
As for Vivi, according to Trebor Tracy, a writer for SB Nation’s LA Galaxy site, LAG Confidential, the team needs depth at the forward position after trading away forward Kevin Cabral. Though, Vivi would likely start off with LA Galaxy ll, the Galaxy’s MLS Next Pro team, with a chance to be elevated to the main roster should he perform well.
Gino’s first call with the boss ✨ pic.twitter.com/iUEJ2DNIv9— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) December 22, 2022
The Galaxy report for preseason on Jan. 7.