Commerce City, Colo. - After all the beauracracies and delays of moving from his former club in Argentina to Major League Soccer, Martin Rivero finally made his debut for the Colorado Rapids back on April 1 in a 2-0 home win over Chicago.
Brought in as a playmaker, Rivero naturally delivered by assisting on the first goal of the game (WATCH).
Fast forward to late October, and 22-year-old had registered a team-leading eight assists and added two goals while starting 30 regular season matches.
Rivero's teammates recognized his ability and potential by giving him nearly 65% of the first place votes for the 2012 Young Player of the Year award.
"I'm very honored," Rivero said of his winning the trophy. "It's an award for the effort, and the desire to improve and to become a better professional. It's nice gift that my teammates gave me and it makes me very happy."
After another successful year with Argentina's Rosario Central, the midfielder took a leap of faith by making the move to Major League Soccer last winter. Looking back, and ahead, he's very happy with his decision.
"It was my first experience outside my country and my first year here, and I'm a little bit surprised at how I was able to adapt to the country and to the soccer here - which was different for me," he said. "One always tries to find a balance and I'm happy because I think I adapted well and improved throughout the season. I'm very happy here. All year I've been treated very well."
While achieving personal successes on and off the field, Rivero's contributions to the squad can also be measured. The Rapids were 6-3-1 in games in which he either scored or registered an assist.
"We improved a lot" he said of team's season. "In not qualifying for the playoffs, we wanted to finish as strong as possible and I think we did by winning the last two games and playing very good. We showed there are good things ahead. Perhaps we didn't get the result we wanted all year, but we finished very well."
Rivero, who also finished third in the Fan Favorite Award behind Matt Pickens and Drew Moor, is already itching to return in 2013.
"I really want to stay and continue here," he said. "I'm very comfortable, and I think this award that the guys gave me as "Young Player" is extra motivation to look ahead. We have a real good group and we need to look to better things next year."