Central defender Nelson Rivas played a full 90 minutes for the first time this season Saturday against the LA Galaxy, and despite it being only his second appearance, his experience and strength was evident.
“Having Nelson play a full game is huge for us,” said Impact head coach Jesse Marsch, “You can see the skills he has on the ball and how he makes the team better. Once he and Matteo get to know each other better, they’ll be extremely difficult to play against.”
The duo of Rivas and Matteo Ferrari were solid versus the likes of offensive stars David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane. Together, they made 15 interceptions and 13 recoveries and won all their tackles. The Colombian made 29 successful passes, while the Italian added 24 successful passes. No other defender on either side of the ball came close to those numbers.
And although both players have different styles -Rivas plays a little more physical game while Ferrari has a little more finesse- their experience will prove invaluable to the Impact.
“These players have experience with some of the biggest clubs in Europe,” said defender Hassoun Camara, who played alongside the duo on the right flank. “There level of play is so high, and it is easy to play with them. When they speak, I listen.”
Next up for the new defensive duo will be a much-awaited game against the New York Red Bulls, who have been hot in the past weeks, winning four consecutive games.