BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- New Fire Designated Player Arevalo Rios’ admitted his debut in Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at New England was bittersweet.
“I was happy to make my debut but sad because of the loss,” Rios said through a translator Tuesday. “It could have been all-around happiness if we would have won the game.”
Despite not playing a competitive fixture since June’s FIFA Confederations Cup, the Uruguayan international went the full 90 minutes next to Jeff Larentowicz in central midfield and had a solid outing according to Fire head coach Frank Klopas.
“He did well. You expect that from an experienced player. The thing is his fitness which we expect will get better every game.”
The defeat extended the Fire’s winless run on artificial turf to 11 matches and though it wasn’t ideal for his club debut, Rios wouldn’t let it be an excuse.
“It’s always good for the team playing locally because they know the bounces and how to dribble on the turf but as a professional player you have to adjust to all situations. I played on turf for a year with Tijuana and I think you just have to adjust.”
Rios will hope to find more all-around happiness when the Fire welcome fellow Eastern Conference playoff contenders Sporting KC this Friday and Houston Dynamo to Toyota Park on September 1.
The Fire DP’s impact will need to be felt not only because both are six-pointers in a tight Eastern playoff race but because he’ll likely miss the following two matches at Seattle (September 7) and Toronto (September 11) because of crucial World Cup qualifying matches for Uruguay.
La Celeste currently sits fifth with 16 points in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying, good enough right now for the region’s intercontinental playoff spot against a team from Asia. The side plays at sixth place Peru (14 points) on September 6 and vs. second place Colombia (23 points) on September 10, meaning it’d be difficult for Rios to turn any qualifying call down.
Asked about his integration into the team, Rios admitted “It’s complicated especially because there are only 12 games and there might be call-ups to the national team. The team has already been playing and developed their own rhythm. But I’m going to focus on playing, and give all I have because I feel indebted to the Fire.”
If he was to get called for the two qualifiers next month, “el Cacha” would return to the Fire for four games through the end of September and early October before another potentially important qualifying fixture on October 11 at Ecuador could mean he’d miss the October 12 match at FC Dallas.
“There are a lot of important games that are coming up with the national team,” said Rios. “I’m concentrated on this weekend’s game [with the Fire] but if I do get called up, I have to defend the colors of my country. Everything I have is because of the national team so I have to go there.”