Rivero's solid play eases transition for Rapids newcomer
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Martín Rivero is quiet, humble and frequently describes his mood as “tranquilo,” the Spanish word for “calm.”
The Colorado Rapids’ new midfield ace is less than two months removed from leaving his home nation of Argentina for just the second time in his life, but he’s already made a grand impression on his new fans with a big debut against the Chicago Fire on April 1.
“I’m adapting day to day and adjusting to the United States,” Rivero told MLSsoccer.com this week, speaking in an unmistakably thick Argentine Spanish accent. “But it’s really different to Argentina. I’m doing the things I need to do to make it work.”
WATCH: Rivero sets up Rapids goal
The 22-year-old Rivero signed with the Rapids in mid-February from Argentine club Rosario Central. His MLS debut was put on hold for three games while he awaited his International Transfer Request form, but he finally made his first appearance in dazzling style.
Rivero’s 58th-minute stride-for-stride long ball to Brian Mullan set up the Rapids’ first goal in their 2-0 home win over the Fire on April 1, and the Argentine youngster looked comfortable and settled from his first minute on the pitch.
But naturally, life off the field has presented its challenges. Rivero is working on obtaining visas for his girlfriend and his one-year-old daughter, but in the meantime, he’s had to learn to live by himself for the first time in his life. Colorado head coach Oscar Pareja, who came to MLS in 1998 from his native Colombia, has offered words of advice to the young newcomer.
“I’m trying to share all the experiences that we’ve had before on the field and off the field,” Pareja said. “And in the case of Martín, [he] needs them because it’s a different transition and we all have [had] them.”
Now that he's ventured out of his homeland for only the second time — “I’ve been to Uruguay once,” the Argentine said — Rivero is settling into his new home and is working on learning English, and he's embracing the opportunity to do so.
“I’m learning a little something every day,” said Rivero, who has started at central midfield in both games he’s been available. “The players teach me a little something. It’s always nice to learn another language, particularly English, which is so widely used.”
When he’s not at practice or away for games, Rivero has found a hangout that reminds him of home. A downtown Denver pizzeria owned by Argentines has turned into Rivero’s preferred spot and has helped him settle into his new home, which he repeatedly called “beautiful.”
“The people treat me well, and the truth is I’m very comfortable,” Rivero said of living in Denver. “I’m 22 years old. It’s a wonderful experience.”
As far as his on-field play to date, Rivero’s performances for his new club ought to make fans feel tranquilo about their new acquisition. Rivero figures to start for the Rapids once again on Saturday when Colorado take on the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field (4 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.