Home MLS Montreal Impact Impact takes major gamble with signing of Rivas

Impact takes major gamble with signing of Rivas


There are two types of foreign stars who sign in Major League Soccer.

There are the sure things: Designated Players such as Thierry Henry and Torsten Frings, who enjoyed great careers playing on some of the world’s biggest footballing stages. Their talent shines through.

Then, there is the second, much more common, class. This is made up of players on whom MLS general managers are taking major risks in bringing to MLS. Some, such as Eric Hassli — who scored bunches in Switzerland but struggled in French football — have turned out to be hits. Others, like Spanish veteran Mista and, at least so far, Belgian second-division ace Mustapha Jarju, have turned out to be major misses. On the Toronto FC scale, on the non-DP front, we can look at busts like Laurent Robert and successes like Carl Robinson.

Defender Nelson Rivas, announced Monday as the first major signing in the Montreal Impact’s history, is definitely anything but a sure thing. Most major media outlets, including CBC, have reported that Rivas will be a DP — but the Impact,as per MLS terms, did not disclose the terms of the deal. And the Impact has suggested that he isn’t going to take up a DP slot.

Rivas was a CDN$10.5 million signing for Inter Milan in 2007 — and ended up being a major bust. He played just 28 times for Inter and, on mutual consent, his contract was terminated in August of this year — one year ahead of its scheduled expiry date.

The fact that he was signed now, shows just how bad the Impact want to wipe away the sour taste left in the mouths of the club and its supporters after a disastrous final NASL campaign which saw it become one of just two clubs to miss the playoffs in the eight-team circuit. While the NASL prepares for its 2011 semifinals, the Impact has a new crown jewel to show off to its fans in preparation for MLS 2012.

But, make no mistake; this is a massive risk. New boss Jesse Marsch has decided to come in and try to bully the poker table. This is riverboat gambling, plain and simple.

Rivas was loaned to Ukrainian side Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk at the start of the 2010-11 season, with the Ukrainians holding the option to buy Rivas from Inter. Dnipro said no. In his time in the Ukraine, Rivas got into one match, a 2-2 draw with Tavriya. For most of his time in Eastern Europe, Rivas was well down the depth chart of manager Juande Ramos.

The fact that Inter cut him loose a year early — basically taking a bath on the $10.5 million spent in 2007 — showed that the club’s brass understood that there was no market for the player. With that kind of investment, a club will try its best to get something back.

Rivas also spent significant time on loan at Livorno. In fact, in his time when he was on the Inter books, he spent more time outside of Milan than in it.

“We are excited to bring on board a player like Nelson,” said Marsch in a release issued by the club. “I think it sets the tone for what kind of players we want to bring in for 2012, and what type of organization we want to be. I am confident his talent and great experience will make our club and team better.”

If he doesn’t make the Impact better, he does make the club a little more interesting.

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  1. Steve

    October 7, 2011 at 2:49 am

    Your article is irrelevant seeing as he is not even a DP..Nobody is “suggesting” anything, a player is either a DP or he is not and Rivas is not so I really don’t understand what YOU are suggesting?

    And Frings, really? He has seemed quite flat and uninterested up to now..

  2. Daniel

    October 6, 2011 at 8:06 pm

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