Martin Rivero was traded to Chivas USA from the Colorado Rapids in April 2014. The Argentine midfielder had been with the Rapids for two seasons previously, but while he looked very good while healthy, was hurt so often that the Rapids gave up on him prior to the 2014 season, and his rights were traded for pennies on the dollar (a fourth round MLS SuperDraft pick).
A central midfield playmaker, something Chivas didn't have on the roster, Rivero took a little time to get into match fitness, but once he was up to speed, he was a fixture in the lineup. Showing an increasing ability to hit good passes to teammates in the final third, and also displaying a competence on the defensive side of the ball that I was previously unfamiliar with, it looked like another core member of Wilmer Cabrera's squad was locked in for the season.
Unfortunately, history repeated itself, as Rivero went down with a torn ACL just as he was really getting into form, and missed the final four months of the season. What's even worse was that the injury wasn't an obvious one, as he didn't go down dramatically in his final game with the club, though the team later said he was injured in that win over Real Salt Lake at the end of June. He played the full 90 minutes in that game, and while he wasn't the only player to mysteriously tear his ACL in MLS this season, it was a real shame.
Obviously, it's a shame for any player to tear his ACL. But Rivero does have talent, that much is assured. At just 25, he's managed 14 assists in three injury-shortened seasons in MLS. We've only caught glimpses, but he can play in MLS, when healthy.
Here were Rivero's statistics with Chivas USA:
|Games Played||Games Started||Minutes||Goals||Assists||Shots||SOG||Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|MLS Regular Season||7||6||577||0||3||4||1||1||0|
|U.S. Open Cup||1||0||30||0||0||0||0||0||0|
Of note is that Rivero's three assists with Chivas all came in games where the team got a result. And with the team so poor at providing good service to the strikers (Mauro Rosales led the team in assists before being traded away, but he got those assists in clumps, not consistently), losing Rivero for the second half of the season, just as he was getting into a rhythm with his teammates, really hurt the team. Don't get me wrong, I don't think he would have fired the Goats into the playoffs, but I think he would have gotten close to double-digits in assists from the playmaker role, and probably could have turned a couple of games with his offensive contributions.
So what does the future hold for Rivero? Will he get a third chance in MLS? I think he should, but I'm not sure if teams are going to steer away from him. Since he injured his knee in the summer, he may be ready to begin some training in preseason, though he may need until the start of the season before he's back to full strength. As a result, I wouldn't be surprised if any interested teams stay away from him in the Re-Entry Drafts, and wait to bring him in on trial once he's healthy again.
As I noted in my Dispersal Draft guide, I also wouldn't be surprised if teams potentially interested in him let him return to Argentina (or another South American league) and play for awhile there before looking to bring him in. I don't blame teams if they want to do that.
Still, I think Rivero has considerable talent, and can really contribute to a lot of MLS teams. I'd love to see him succeed in this league. But can he stay healthy? That's the big question, and might ultimately determine his career.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!