As with last year, Burgundy Wave is going to use the wonderful Chalk Board feature from OptaSports to dissect the play of a player or two from the Colorado Rapids after every game. Follow along on the chalkboard for the Colorado Rapids vs. Chicago Fire.
Wow. Martin Rivero started his first ever MLS game on Sunday for the Colorado Rapids, playing the all important attacking midfielder position in the new 4-3-3. He came in as possibly the most hyped signing in Rapids history, with all sorts of questions about him coming in despite the hype machine that had blasted the idea of him being a 'true 10' into fans ears before the season.
Do you know what? He lived up to the hype. Unbelievably, he lived up to every word and surpassed even the most optimistic expectations. This kid was really freakin' good, is what I'm trying to say here.That was a dream debut for Rivero, because he did everything that a true #10 is supposed to do and more. What is the job of the 10? Dictate play, create the offense, control the passing and generally be the engine that drives any and all attacks. It's a crucial role for a team that attacks through the middle like Colorado has been trying to do in their new system, and Rivero was fantastic at all of that.
The biggest thing we were looking for from Rivero was a lot of work done to boost the team up. He provided. Check his heat map to see that he was all over the pitch, seemingly every inch from right above the defensive third up. Check his numbers and you'll see he had the most 'plays' of anyone on the team with 124 different actions involving him. His passing was great, with 56 successful passes and 14 unsuccessful. He lost the ball 17 times because the Fire were targeting him, but recovered the ball 12 times.
About the only thing that needs work from him is his crossing judging by that game. He split the difference in crosses 3/3. It certainly wasn't too bad a problem though, his assist was on a brilliant lob pass that nestled right next to the byline where an unmarked Brian Mullan caught the Fire defense sleeping. If he can provide some more of those, I don't think missing Jamie Smith is going to be a problem for much longer. That's not even going into how good his corner kicks looked; though the Rapids didn't score on any of them, they were some of the most well placed corners we've seen in a long time from Colorado.
Essentially, Rivero was the unquestioned man of the match in my book. Now... can he keep it up against a very good Salt Lake team?