Arévalo Ríos turned out to be a nine-game rental for the Chicago Fire, who announced on Monday they declined the Uruguayan international's option for next season.
That made cutting a Designated Player one of Frank Yallop's first official moves since taking over as coach and director of soccer. And the reasoning was simple: pure financials.
“I saw Ríos play a few times and he's a good player, but he doesn't fit into what we're doing financially and positionally,” Yallop told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Monday. “Something had to give. When there's options on certain players, it gives you flexibility for doing that. We have a certain amount of guys who are guaranteed for next season who are very good players. It frees up a little bit of cap room, a good bit of cap room if we need it.”
The Fire, who also waived backup goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi on Monday, acquired “El Cacha” on loan from Palermo in August after a courtship that started shortly after this past summer's Confederations Cup. He started nine games in MLS, in which Chicago went 4-3-2, and received positive reviews.
But Ríos likely would have missed time next season for the World Cup, and the Fire have plenty of depth in central midfield. Alex, Logan Pause and Daniel Paladini all started next to Jeff Larentowicz at times last season.
“Attached to the extension was a high number for us,” Yallop said. “It just didn't quite make sense. He's obviously a quality player, but it didn't make sense on our cap or on our long-term decisions … Jeff does a good job in there, and we have him on our roster at an affordable number, too. That's always obviously a choice that we have to make.”
With Ríos out of the picture, Yallop intimated that he'd like to play an offensive midfielder in front of Larentowicz or another holding midfielder. Former head coach Frank Klopas started Alex in attacking midfield several times last year, including games when Ríos was gone on international duty, and Yallop said the Brazilian did a “nice job at times.”
“I'd like to think that that player playing, say it's with Jeff, is going to be an attack-minded player,” Yallop said. “Will he be an out-and-out No. 10? I'm not sure.
"I think [Mike] Magee plays that position very well as an underneath, roaming, dangerous player. I think that if you look at most teams the way they play now, it's usually with two holding midfielders and one attacking second-striker. But I'd like to think that we can play with two like Mike joining in the attack.”