BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Uruguayan international midfielder Arévalo Ríos trained with the Chicago Fire for the first time Friday morning after lengthy negotiations saw the club reportedly reach a loan agreement with Italian side Palermo, which would allow the 2010 FIFA World Cup veteran to join the Fire through the end of 2013.
Though the club will have to wait on the clearance of an international roster spot before he can play, the 31-year-old box-to-box midfielder is expected to join the team as a Designated Player with the club also reportedly holding an option on his contract..
Long linked to the Fire, Ríos (who has earned 46 caps for Uruguay) showed excitement to come to Chicago after indicating that conversations to do so began prior to June’s FIFA Confederations Cup.
“It was a long way to walk,” he told reporters post-training on Friday. "Since the tournament, I knew I wanted to come here and I was excited about it.
“There were conversations that we had to get through with Palermo. I felt support from the technical staff here, they never quit, they got through the block from Palermo, Javier [Leon] and Guillermo [Petrei] kept pushing and finally I’m here.”
Fire head coach Frank Klopas also indicated his delight with the central midfielder, indicating he had passed up good offers in Italy and Mexico to join the Fire.
“This guy is a world class player,” he said Friday. “He’s played in World Cups and all that stuff. We have been in touch with him for a year and a half and I think [assistant coach] Leo Percovich knows the guys [in Uruguay] and this is the place he wanted to be.
“More than anything it’s a good to have a guy that wants to be a part of this team and wants to be here.”
Though he plays specifically as a holding midfielder for Uruguay, both Ríos and Klopas touched on his versatility and see his role with the Fire being that of a box-to-box type, taking on responsibilities at both ends of the field.
“I like to play two ways,” said Ríos. “Getting the ball and pushing through offensively, going box-to-box and covering both roles. I can score goals and I think that’s important to help.”
“He’s a guy that can do both,” said Klopas. “He brings a lot of good qualities without the ball and with the ball and he has a tremendous amount of experience, a super mentality, passing, he’s just a competitive guy. You look at this guy and you just say ‘I don’t want to play against him.’”
Any questions about his fitness level were quickly turned away by Klopas with Ríos adding, “I feel good. I’ve been in Mexico training with a fitness coach under a program from the national team on small-sided fields training in high-intensity, taking touches with the ball all the time and with teammates.”
In terms of clearing an international roster spot, the club continues to look for a loan option for Dutch striker Sherjill MacDonald, while Paolo Tornaghi is reportedly close to securing a green card. Either move would allow Ríos to be added to the team’s roster.
Klopas addressed the need to make a move in order to add Ríos to the roster, saying, “That’s just part of everything. You look to make moves, sometimes you bring guys in, that’s just part of any team. You have to go through that.”