Major League Soccer just keeps getting stronger.
Three Designated Players have joined in a week, with Clint Dempsey signing for Seattle, Gabriel Torres heading to Colorado and now Arevalo Rios has joined Chicago from Serie A side Palermo.
Rios, 31, played for Uruguay in the recent Confederations Cup tournament in Brazil and is a no-nonsense midfielder. He often patrols midfield like a mad man, hunting down the opposition and then using the ball simply but effectively. Rios will definitely add an extra bite and much needed depth to Chicago’s midfield.
And check this out, the veteran midfielder turned down offers to stay in Europe and Liga MX sides to play in MLS.
“They opened the door for me and I was very committed to coming here,” Ríos said. “I had different options, but I really believe in this organization. … Since I played in the Confederations Cup, I knew I really wanted to come here.”
Rios has 46 caps for Uruguay and although he usually plays in a holding role, Chicago may ask him to press forward. Head coach Frank Klopas has studied him extensively, and Rios’ initial loan move could be made permanent if he impresses.
The combative midfielder will likely start straight away alongside Jeff Larentowicz as the Fire look to keep pushing up the Eastern conference standings and make the playoffs for the second straight season. Rios could be a key piece of the puzzle for Klopas’ men. Only time will tell how he fares but his pedigree in one of Europe’s top leagues, and on the international stage, speaks for itself.
But with Rios the third high-profile signing in recent days, is MLS going through somewhat of a watershed moment? First Dempsey arrived to much fan fare, but players like Panama forward Torres and Rios are making the league extremely strong and stacked with top international talent. The jury is still out on how much of an impact all three will make until they actually kick a ball (except for Deuce) but their acquisitions do show an upturn in the type of player MLS can now attract.
Hopefully this level of player recruitment can continue.