In need of a spark, D.C. United have announced the signing of Venezuelan striker Gelmin Rivas. The 31 year old, acquired as a free agent after he completed a short stint at MKE Ankaragücü, will require an international roster spot. United will be able to place him on the active roster once he receives his U.S. work visa and the club has cleared his International Transfer Certificate.
“We are excited to welcome Gelmin to the District,” said United GM Dave Kasper in a team press release. “Gelmin’s experience and goal scoring record in leagues across the world will add some important firepower and attacking depth to our roster. We’re looking forward to integrating him with the squad.”
Rivas, who has 3 caps for Venezuela, broke though in his country’s domestic league in a two-year stint with Deportivo Tachira, scoring 40 goals in that time and helping the club win a championship in the 2014-2015 season. That lead to a transfer to Saudi Arabia, where he signed with Al-Ittihad, and began a meandering career in the Middle East. Along with the Saudi league, Rivas has played in the UAE and Qatar.
The last of those stops saw him complete a short-term deal with Al-Rayyan before heading back to South America, where he signed another short-term contract with Uruguayan club Boston River. The end date of that deal brings us up to where United’s interest first appeared on the radar (you may remember our reports on rumors linking Rivas to United, the Portland Timbers, and several Colombian clubs).
Rivas ended up signing in Turkey with Ankaragücü, who at the time were in a desperate battle to avoid relegation from the top flight. Since then, the coronavirus pandemic saw Turkish soccer authorities opt to not relegate anyone, so Ankaragücü managed to stay up despite finishing at the bottom of the table. During his half-season in Turkey, Rivas appeared 7 times, scoring once.
Signing Rivas addresses the shortage of true forwards on the roster. At MLS is Back, an injury to Ola Kamara and a reported false positive Covid-19 test for Erik Sorga saw attacking utility man Ulises Segura starting up front, and that has continued with United’s recent move to a 352 set-up. Rivas, at 6’ and 190 lbs., has a reputation for being able to offer hold-up play and physicality, something that may free up some room for the channel-running of Kamara and Sorga.
With Edison Flores on the injured reserve for a few more weeks, signing Rivas does not take up United’s last international roster spot. Once Flores is back on the active roster, United will be using all five of their available international spots. With United near the bottom of the table and winless in six games, further reinforcements are likely needed.