With a new supporting cast of players, Octavio Rivero won't be the only one counted upon to score goals for the Vancouver Whitecaps, and after his performance down the stretch last season, that's obviously a good thing. Rivero ,the 24 year old Uruguryan striker that showed so much damn promise at the beginning of 2015, is a major question mark heading into this year as the Whitecaps try to solve some well known scoring problems.
Last year the Whitecaps hoped Pedro Morales and Rivero would be able to form a lethal partnership, but Morales was slowed by injuries and it never consistently materialized. Rivero went on a torrid start with 5 goals in 6 matches, but his production dried up and he simply could not be counted on to score goals. Unfortunately, there wasn't a plethora of guys stepping up while he struggled, with only Morales, Kekuta Manneh and Cristian Techera joining him above the five goal mark.
Rivero escaped a lot of criticism on this site because of his hard working style of play and that it was his rookie year in Major League Soccer, but he won't get the same pass if 2016 turns out the same. It's great that Rivero can find himself in the right spots, that he digs hard defensively and is able to get shots off (101 total last season, 41 on net, both team highs), but the 'Caps need goals, plain and simple.
There's definitely a fire that's been lit under his butt, as the 'Caps have been re-stocking their cupboard up top, and Rivero will have to fight for playing time against guys like Blas Perez and Masata Kudo.
Now to his credit, it's not like Rivero is unaware he must do better. In an interview with MLSSoccer.com in November of last year, Rivero mentioned how disappointed he was in his streaky debut season, and how he is determined to improve this time around.
"Personally, I believe I didn't achieve all I hoped for," Rivero said through a translator. "Principally, I think I am the first critic. And yes... I think to work harder, work together more as a team, and individually before anything, something that will be better for the team next year, and for me too."
This year, there are fewer excuses for Octavio Rivero. He knows how physical MLS can be, he knows how laborious the Whitecaps travel schedule can be. He knows what to expect from the turf at BC Place, and he's had a year to build a relationship with the fans and coaching staff.
If he can't find a way to score more consistently, if he can't find a way to justify his DP salary, I think it's safe to say his days in Van city will be numbered.