COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Colorado Rapids midfielder Martín Rivero has arguably been the team’s brightest star in a season filled with plenty of lows.
Acquired on the eve of the 2012 season, the 22-year-old Argentine has proven to be a workhorse for head coach Oscar Pareja’s midfield and, despite a nearly 6,000-mile displacement from where he grew up, he believes he’s found a new home in Colorado.
“I definitely [want to return in 2013],” Rivero told MLSsoccer.com. “I feel really comfortable here, and I’m waiting for the new year to come to work on papers with the team. For the team, it wasn’t a great year, but I feel very comfortable, very adapted, and hopefully, we can continue together.”
The quiet, hard-working midfielder leads the Rapids with eight assists and is fourth on the team in minutes played despite missing the first three games of the season while waiting to receive his International Transfer Certificate (ITC). Rivero has started 28 of the 29 games he’s been eligible to play in, quickly establishing himself as a key cog in Pareja’s midfield.
During his frequent time on the field, he's transformed himself into the No. 10-type player the Rapids have long sought, orchestrating the Rapids’ attack with clever passes, surprising physicality and establishing himself as the heart of Pareja’s attack-minded midfield.
It's not all down to him, though – Rivero attributes part of his success to his new coach.
“The truth is, [Pareja] is a coach who demands hard work,” Rivero said. “I like the style he uses to train, and between everything, we’re going to try and finish the best way possible.”
Rivero tallied four goals in 20 games for Rosario Central of Argentina’s Primera B (second division) before officially being acquired by Colorado on loan in February. Narrowly left off of MLSsoccer.com’s 24 under 24 list in September, the playmaker has been working at picking up a few phrases English, although he still only speaks Spanish.
Though Rivero has missed his native Argentina from time to time – he plans on going back to his hometown of Rosario during the offseason – he has made it clear that he wants to come back to Colorado in 2013.
“I miss [Argentina] a bit,” Rivero said. “More than anything, until they got here [to Denver] I missed my family, my friends and that, yes. But here, I’m very happy.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.