Good news on a Monday morning! Daniel Ríos is in it for the long haul. From Club release:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mar. 15, 2021) – Nashville SC announced today that the club has extended the contract of forward Daniel Ríos through the 2022 season with an option for 2023. Ríos was originally acquired in historic fashion as Nashville’s first Major League Soccer signing on Nov. 20, 2018.
“Daniel continues to grow as a player here in Nashville, and we are proud to be able to reward him for his efforts,” said Mike Jacobs, Nashville SC General Manager.
Ríos, 26, made immediate impact for Nashville SC in the club’s first MLS season, appearing in 18 matches. Ríos scored four goals in the regular season, all of them at Nissan Stadium, which tied him for the team-lead alongside Designated Player Hany Mukhtar.
With Ríos signed for the upcoming season, the youth movement for Nashville continues to trickle throughout the roster. Nashville SC currently has 14 players on their active roster 26 years or younger and 21 of 26 members of the roster under 30 years old.
The highlight of Ríos’ first MLS season came in the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs when he came off the bench to score the game-winning goal for Nashville against Toronto FC that sent the expansion club to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Ríos originally made the leap from Club Deportivo Guadalajara of Liga MX in Mexico to the United States when he joined North Carolina FC where he registered 20 goals. From there, Ríos moved to Music City where the Mexican forward became a scoring threat in the USL Championship.
Ríos led Nashville SC in goals with 21 goals in 32 appearances while finishing second in the race for the USL Championship Golden Boot. The forward became the club’s all-time USL Championship leading scorer. In his two years in the league, Ríos finished with 41 goals and became the only USL Championship player to have scored 20 plus goals in back-to-back seasons.Nashville SC
It’s been no secret since he signed prior to Nashville SC’s second season in USL that I’ve been very positive on Ríos’s play – and potential – for the club. He validated plenty of that last season when he was on the field, putting up very impressive advanced numbers on a per-minute basis.
The issue is – and has always been – his availability. He arrived from North Carolina FC less than 100%, and has only been at full health in spurts during his time in Music City. When healthy, he’s got the potential to be a top-flight MLS striker. The hope has to be that some of the chronic issues (that led to related acute ones – the body is interconnected, folks) are in the more-distant past, and he’s ready to be as healthy as he’s ever been in his career.
If that’s the case (and there’s no reason to expect anything else), he can at the very least form a potent 1-2 punch with fellow striker Jhonder Cádiz, if not beat out the Venezuelan for starters’ minutes.