Player Profile: Daniel Ríos

The first player signed by the yet-to-be-named Nashville MLS side, Daniel Ríos is a forward with an impressive strike rate. Let's look at what kind of player the 23-year-old is.

Positional awareness: "Daniel Ríos is a striker who gets it," says Jonathan Duren, who covers North Carolina FC for Six Point Weekend. "He's always where he needs to be. He knows how to create space, for himself and for everyone else." One of the things that stands out from the above highlight package is his ability to find pockets of space. In his goal against Ottawa (around the 0:34 mark), he shows great awareness to drop back and wait for the cutback instead of crashing the goal. It opens up an easy passing lane for Miller and gives Ríos space to pick up his head and find the bottom corner. It looks simple, but it's a really intelligent play that shows a natural understanding of space.

Finishing: Ríos doesn't need many chances to score. For Nashville, that's good news. Coming into a team that created a decent amount of chances but finished at a shockingly low rate, Ríos is an instant upgrade to the attack. Ríos finished the 2018 season with 20 goals in 61 shots. That's a 33% conversion rate. He takes a decent amount of shots (around two per game) and keeps a solid 59% of them on target. He's also not afraid to pull the trigger from distance, scoring three goals outside the box. In 2018, Brandon Allen was the only NSC striker to score from outside the box. Ríos has an natural instinct for goal and isn't afraid to take chances, but also is a very composed finisher, who doesn't rush his shots, but waits for a lane to open and the 'keeper to commit before picking a corner and slotting it home. We'll dive into this more later, but if Nashville can create a similar amount of chances and convert even at an average level, fans will see a lot more goals in 2019. Ríos will be key to that.

Tenacity: Ríos does a great job closing down defenders. He works really hard in an out of possession, and follows plays that could seem like a lost cause. "He's always hard nosed, he never gives up," says Duren. "High intensity." This is an area that Nashville could improve on, especially when they're playing in a single-striker system. His goal against Penn FC in the highlight video is a great example of this (starts at 1:08). A lot of players would give up on the play after the ball was passed behind him. Instead, Ríos closes down space fast, beating the defender to the ball and poking it into space. This type of aggression is reminiscent of Dom Dwyer, and will really improve Nashville's effectiveness in the final third.

Assessment: Daniel Ríos is a young, promising striker with a nose for goal. He's still relatively inexperienced, and Nashville will be counting on his continued improvement leading up to MLS in 2020. Ríos is still only 23, and Nashville has added some really impressive pieces, which should result in better service into the box and even more chance creation. Expect Ríos to put away a lot of those chances, and potentially even better his 20 goal tally from last year.

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