COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Colorado Rapids midfielder Martin Rivero’s 2013 season hasn’t exactly gone to plan. The midfield ace has missed 17 games due to injury so far this season and now, fully healthy again, he’s been on the bench for three straight matches.
The Rapids’ dynamic 24-year-old attacking midfielder led the team in assists in his first year in Colorado in 2012 and firmly established himself as a building block for the team moving forward. But a broken foot in preseason was the first in a series of frustrating injuries for the slick-passing Argentine.
But after recovering from a thigh injury in early August, Rivero failed to crack the starting lineup, appearing as a second-half substitute in three straight matches, including last Saturday's 2-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City (he also scored the equalizing goal in a cameo role against Chivas USA on Aug. 11, shown above).
Even in his unfamiliar role on the bench in favor of impressive rookie Dillon Powers, however, Rivero says he understands the decision.
“I’m calm,” Rivero told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday. “I’m aware that I was out for a while. The team is playing well, and when I get a chance to get back in there, I’ll give my all as always.”
Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja declined to get into specifics on Wednesday on the details of why Rivero didn’t start on Saturday, simply calling it a “tactical decision.”
“He’s 100 percent ready to go and compete,” Pareja told MLSsoccer.com. “He’s competing for a spot like any other player.”
Despite the frustration of Rivero’s season to date, he’s choosing not to focus on the string of injuries that have plagued him this season. With the Rapids firmly in the playoff mix with only seven matches to go, Rivero wants to save his best for last.
“The truth is it’s the first time that it’s happened [in my career],” he said. “It’s been a difficult year for me, but there’s nothing I can do about it now. I’m recovered and looking forward and try and help the team as much as I can.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.