Spanish playmaker Victor Vazquez making his presence felt with Toronto FC

Vazquez making his presence felt in Toronto

Toronto FC attacking midfielder Victor Vazquez comes as advertised.

“He makes guys around him better,” Toronto captain Michael Bradley said approvingly after Saturday’s 2-0 win in Vancouver.

The 30-year-old Spaniard wasted little time making his presence felt after coming off the bench in the 64th minute against the Whitecaps. He opened the scoring 12 minutes later, drifting into the space between the defence to head home a ball nodded on by Jozy Altidore.

Four minutes later, Vazquez played provider from the flank by finding Jonathan Osorio with a beautifully weighted pass between defenders. Osorio spotted a crease in the defence, sending the ball to Altidore who pivoted to make space for his shot and slammed the ball home.

Two lovely strikes, with Vazquez helping chart the way to goal.

“He has an eye for finishing off plays whether it’s getting goals himself or final passes for assists,” said Bradley.

Listed at five foot nine and 167 pounds, Vazquez is elegant to watch.

The former player of the year in Belgium has a fine football brain and the technical ability to act on it. He sees an opening and can deliver the ball there.

“He understands decision-making in the game,” said coach Greg Vanney.

“He thinks fast … We need a player like him,” added striker Sebastian Giovinco.

It helps that Vazquez is happy in Toronto. After five successful years with Club Brugge, he had an unhappy 2016 with Mexico’s Cruz Azul. The fit wasn’t right and his family chafed in Mexico City.

Toronto is a different story. The Spaniard is all smiles as he recounts how his wife is exploring the city and their young son is happily ensconced in his new school.

“They are really happy. It’s a big change from Mexico,” he said.

Little things can make a big difference. Vazquez points to his new neighbours and how helpful they have been.

Toronto team staff have also worked hard to welcome his family and to ease the transition. It’s something the club prides itself on doing well, with assistance on everything from finding housing to schools.

For Vanney, the logistical help means taking a load off the player.

“It’s vital. If players are comfortable, happy. Things are sorted out at home in their life, then they don’t need to bring those issues into the training ground or into their daily work,” said Vanney.

It helps that Vazquez, whose English is excellent, is social and easy-going. That and his ability have helped him fit into what is a tight-knit group of Toronto players.

These days the Spaniard is looking to make connections on the field, to understand the tendencies and likes of players like Altidore and Giovinco.

He is also getting used to Major League Soccer, which features a more physical brand of soccer than in Mexico.

He watches MLS games and consults friends like Los Angeles Galaxy forward Giovani Dos Santos and Sporting Kansas City midfielder Ilie Sanchez, who like Vazquez came up through the Barcelona system. 

Vazquez, who had not played a competitive game for almost four months prior to joining Toronto, estimates he’s at about 60 to 70 per cent playing fitness

Bradley says there is more to come from Vazquez once he finds his full fitness.

“He’s only scratching the surface with our group,” he said.

NOTES: With a bye this weekend, Toronto has loaned first-teamers Oyvind Alseth, Brandon Aubrey, Jay Chapman, Marky Delgado, Tsubasa Endoh, Raheem Edwards and Ben Spencer to Toronto FC 2 to give them some playing time in its USL season opener Saturday in Arizona against Phoenix Rising FC … Restored to health after a charley horse, striker Sebastian Giovinco is eager for the March 31 home opener against Sporting Kansas City. “Finally,” he said of playing at BMO Field.

 

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

VIDEO: Neighbours fought to extinguish Langley house fire

Firefighters arrived to find citizens dousing a blaze climbing through the walls of a Langley home.

Dear Santa: the Langley Advance presents local children’s letters to the jolly old elf

During the holidays, the Langley Advance will present letters to Santa. Here is the first selection.

#MeToo at work: Employers play a role in fixing culture of harassment

B.C. workplaces are getting ahead of being the next MeToo debacle, calling on experts to train staff

VIDEO: Hankering for a piece of Star Wars?

A massive Star Wars memorabilia collection is going on the auction block in Langley.

Car fire destroys vehicle in Langley

Firefighters doused a car fire that sent a lot of smoke into the air in Langley.

VIDEO: Recovering addict shares art and story to motivate others

A Langley City man spends time each day painting in McBurney Plaza.

Update: RCMP arrest domestic assault suspect west of Kamloops.

The RCMP Emergency Response Team made the arrest at around 4:30 p.m.

Owl found dead after eating rat poison leaves B.C. woman concerned

After finding the owl on her Surrey property, Christine Trozzo says the poison is a concern for kids

Change to CPP death benefit panned as insufficient to cover funeral costs

Funeral Services Association of Canada lobbied governments to raise the value to $3,580

B.C. woman brain injured in crash as a baby gets $1.1 million in damages

Trial heard the woman was 16 months old, being carried by her mother when they were both hit

Family Christmas fun at Aldergrove’s Loft Country farm

The Loft Country children’s horse camp in Aldergrove is celebrating Christmas in a new way this year

Court denies WestJet’s bid to toss out discrimination lawsuit of former worker

Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination

VIDEO: 3 months later, rescued sea lion released back into ocean

The young animal was found in Campbell River three months ago

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

Most Read