Rai Heras is a 15-year-old (29/01/2007) central defender currently playing for Independiente del Valle under 17. The defender played in the youth set-up for Independiente Juniors in 2021 before joining Independiente del Valle in 2022. He mainly played for the under 17’s this year. Heras also was one of the key players for Independiente del Valle under 15 in the Next Generation Trophy under 16, which is high-level youth tournament where Independiente del Valle managed to end in second place. I watched Rai Heras for Independiente del Valle under 17 in regular matches in the league and the play-offs, for Independiente del Valle under 16 at the Adidas Cup and for Independiente del Valle under 15 at the Next Generation Trophy.
The young defender stands at around 1.78 meters with a normal build. He will probably still grow a few centimeters, considering that he is only 15 years old. The right-footed Ecuadorian has very good strength in ground duels, showing good strength in his legs, core and upper body. He dominates his opponents in physical duels, even when he is a little bit younger than his opponent. Rai Heras is a very mobile defender; he turns quickly, is agile and has good balance. Heras is quick over both short and long distances. The youngster has a good leap and timing in aerial duels. Heras can become an offensive threat in set-pieces, as he has good heading ability.
Rai Heras has played at both right and left central defence this season. Playing on the right, Heras looks comfortable playing passes into midfield. He has a good passing technique over short and long distances, but is still pretty inconsistent. Heras sometimes overhits long passes and can be slightly inaccurate with his short passing. At 15, the vision, technique and intention are there, which is a very positive sign. The Ecuadorian defender is also very composed under pressure and can dribble past his marker in the first phase of the build-up. Heras has a decent first touch and is comfortable on the ball. His weak foot is okay, but he does not feel comfortable playing vertical passes with his left foot, especially when playing as a left central defender this is noticeable.
Defensively, Heras relies a lot on his athletic and physical ability. His defensive positioning is not that great. The gap between him and the other central defender is sometimes too big. Occasionally, his defensive positioning in the box also is slightly off. However, due to his good speed and athleticism, Heras quickly gets back into the duels. He is also a good tackler, but considering that he has to slide tackle a lot as a central defender also says enough about his positioning. In transition, Heras does well to cut passing lanes and he blocks passes very well using his athleticism to get to the ground quickly.
Steven Rai Heras seems like a down-to-earth and determined player. I think that he has a lot of potential, because all of his weaknesses are very coachable. At a youth academy like Independiente del Valle, I am certain that he will receive the right coaching to improve on his weaknesses. Heras has the potential to play in Europe, if coached well, and I think that he will make his debut for the first team at 18.
Do you think Heras has more or less potential than Joel Ordoñez and what do you think his ceiling is?
I think it is hard to tell at this moment. Joel Ordóñez looked very impressive and I had hoped that he would have already been a rotational player at Club Brugge by now.
Ordoñez seems to be getting a lot of minutes with Brugge’s youth squad. I hope they release him for the U20 championships although that may mean that Brugge doesn’t view him as being that close to their first team so it may be a bad thing. I’m very excited to see his development though cause I think he can slot right next Piero Hincapié as Ecuador’s RCB of the future.