Daniel Rios signed a contract extension with Nashville SC to remain in Music City through 2022 with the option to extend through 2023. The Mexican forward was the club's first MLS signing and played in Nashville's final USL season where he scored 21 goals in 32 appearances.
Last season, Rios scored four regular season goals in 18 appearances and one playoff goal when he came off the bench to defeat Toronto FC and send the Boys in Gold to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
"I'm excited to help Nashville build something here like I've done the past couple of years," Rios said, "show what I can do, and fight for better things during the season."
Head coach Gary Smith is known to be a fan of the forward and had this to say about him: "In terms of what he brings for the team, his finishing, I believe, is just as good if not the best in the group. He's proving that at both levels, USL and MLS, that he's more than capable given the opportunity. He's a fantastic character, and if you look at the type of locker room and identity that we're trying to move forward and develop, Daniel's a big piece of that."
Rios is the only player to score back to back seasons of at least 20 goals in USL history. Before coming to Nashville, he scored 20 goals for North Carolina FC.
The 26 year old is one who has big role models. When referencing his goal against FC Dallas last season, Rios mentioned that growing up he modeled his game after Brazilian legend Ronaldinho.
"I loved the way he enjoyed the game," Rios commented about Ronaldinho. "He was not too serious. When you saw him play, he was dribbling past guys and scoring goals."
Now that he is older, Rios says he looks up to Cristiano Ronaldo. "The way he scores goals, and with his age, he improved his game. Now, he's the role model for me."
Rios and the rest of the Boys in Gold have their first preseason match at 3:30 pm this Saturday at the Currey Ingram Academy against USL Championship side and former rival Louisville City. This past weekend, Lou City faced MLS side FC Cincinnati and defeated them 3-0 including a goal by the team's admin. Smith said the game will be divided into three 30 minute periods with most players playing only 30 minutes with a few exceptions who will play 45.
"My big hope is that the weekend first game first runout for everyone offers the opportunity for all of the guys to get good competition, to get some good minutes under the belt," Smith commented. "The old adage of 'there never is a friends game' is could not be more true against a team like Louisville. Being healthy and getting ourselves on the plane to Florida in good shape and ready for some good games down there as well would be a big box for me to tick."
This match will be closed to the public and the media, but Smith and select players will be available afterwards for a press conference, so be sure to check in with me on Twitter @NSCgoldenboy for updates. All photos courtesy of Nashville SC.