Nelson Rivas is back practicing with the Montreal Impact, or almost. The Colombian defender is still recovering from a hamstring injury and has not participated in one preseason game with the club. He is joined by Adrian Lopez as the Spanish defender is back in Montreal to continue his rehabilitation from a ACL surgery.
Both players represent depth to a club that needs players to strenghten its squad. The Colombian is the closest to make a comeback but the club is being cautious on how soon he will be integrated. Lopez is not close to integrate the team for practices, scrimmages and such.
But to depend on two question marks, due to injuries, is a dangerous bet. Outside actual effective depth, Rivas and Lopez represent hope, used roster spots and idle salaries on a tight salary cap.
Nick De Santis has said again and again that the club has little wiggle room under the cap. This explains the signing of Santiago Gonzalez as a '' discovery signing '' , giving the Impact the ability to amortize Gonzalez's salary.
But the club still decided to renew Rivas' contract during the off season after he only played one game in 2013, which was during the MLS playoffs. One cannot blame the signing of Lopez as the Spaniard injured himself, after playing forty-four minutes in CONCACAF Champions League.
Frank Klopas finds himself in a predicament as he inherits a veteran but unchanged squad. As he showed the courage to rely on MLS rookie Eric Miller, he has not shown the same faith to Wandrille Lefevre and Karl W. Ouimette.
This is not a lobby to give priority to the Impact's own young players. A coaching staff has to field the best players that can give them a chance to win. But unlike his predecessors, Klopas will need to rotate his back line on a regular basis to give everyone more playing time.
It's better to avoid playing Lefevre and others during the last stretch of the season after having barely played all season long.
With so many defenders at the disposal of Klopas, the potential comeback of Rivas and Lopez would come in handy. But the nature of their injuries and timing of their absences casts a shadow on the squad's depth.
That depth should have had more help via a more active off-season as per player procurement: MLS trades anyone?