Toronto FC captain says Victor Vazquez makes players around him better

Bradley says Vazquez makes people better

TORONTO — The early reviews on newly acquired Spanish playmaker Victor Vazquez are all positive in Toronto FC’s camp.

“(A) very good football player,” said captain Michael Bradley, who does not hand out praise lightly. “Somebody who makes guys around him better, somebody who’s easy to play with. He reads the game, he’s very good at finding space.”

The 30-year-old Vazquez joined the MLS side on Feb. 20, with team officials hoping the former footballer of the year in Belgium will add creativity to the midfield behind an already potent attack featuring Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore. 

Vazquez last played a competitive match in the late fall before securing his release from Mexico’s Cruz Azul. While his fitness is improving, Toronto is not likely to push him too soon.

“Victor is very close,” said coach Greg Vanney. “He’s ready to play. Is he ready for 90 minutes at a really high tempo? I would say probably not.” 

Toronto opens the season Saturday at Real Salt Lake.

Vazquez said he is probably at about 60-70 per cent fitness, and looking to reach 100 per cent as soon as possible “to be ready to give everything.”

The Spaniard seems to be settling in. His wife and son were at the team’s training ground Tuesday, meeting club officials to learn about housing, schools and the city.

After spending 14 years in the Barcelona system, Vazquez made his mark with Club Brugge in Belgium. After five seasons there, the move to Mexico was to find a new challenge but proved to be an awkward fit — especially for his family.

“It was a hard experience,” he said.

Vazquez said he wants a “quiet life” after living with 20-million-plus in and around Mexico City. “And in Canada I know that we will have it,” he said.

It was the kind of lifestyle they had in Belgium, Vazquez added. 

Asked about the Spaniard, Bradley offered up what he calls one of the best compliments any player can get.

“He’s easy to play with,” said Bradley. “When he should play one-touch (soccer), he plays one-touch. When he should play two-touch, he plays two-touch. When he has time and the game asks for a little bit more, he’s able to do a little bit more. And I think as he gets fitter and sharper and as we get him even more integrated into our group, he’s going to help us in a big way.”

Vazquez did not come cheap. Toronto used targeted allocation money to bring his salary cap cost below the maximum of some US$500,000.

The Spaniard can score goals and make them. He says his preference is to set up others.

“I’m not thinking individual things. I always try to think as a collective,” he said in English. “Of course, I like to score goals because it’s always a nice compliment but I prefer to give assists because it’s my way of playing. And then I’ll be happy if I give assists to Jozy, to Sebastian, it doesn’t matter who. But I will be more happy than sometimes scoring goals.”

French-born Congolese defender Chris Mavinga will not be part of the squad in Salt Lake after returning to France for the birth of his child.

 

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Current forest fires bring back memories of 2003 wildfire in Kelowna

Former Kelowna fire chief says plan should be to throw everything at a forest fire early

Cooler temps today, but no rain in forecast until August

Environment Canada does not have good news when it comes to fighting fires in the Central Okanagan.

Updated: Evacuation order downgraded to alert for properties near Peachland

Crews continue to battle the 1,000 hectare Mount Eneas blaze south of Peachland

Updated: Complete list of B.C. Interior wildfire coverage

Up-to-date information on blazes happening the Kamloops Wildfire Centre

Fire command centre relocating from Penticton to West Kelowna

Firefighting resources to be concentrated out of temporary camp

BC Games’ Athletes Corner: What’s your favourite pump up song?

Check out what’s playing in the earbuds of BC Summer Games athletes before they compete

Matjicka pulls trick for Silver Stars

Capri Insurance Men’s 55+ Soccer League roundup

Crosswalk vandalism leaves black mark for Cowichan as B.C. Games begin

Rainbow crosswalk defaced just days after being painted

Photo gallery: BC Games Day 1

A brief look at action from the 2018 BC Summer Games in the Cowichan Valley

More space in BC parks and campsites to get away from it all

Province announces an additional 431 campsites throughout B.C. for the 2018 season

Anti-pipeline campers digging in as eviction deadline expires

The City of Burnaby had ordered the Kinder Morgan pipeline protesters out for violating bylaws

Garnet Valley Road in Summerland blocked as crews fight wildfire

Homes in Summerland from Wildhorse Road north have been evacuated as Mount Eneas fire continues

Trump was taped talking of paying Playboy model: AP source

Source says former personal lawyer Michael Cohen secretly recorded discussion prior to 2016 election

BC toddler with ‘allergy’ to sun waiting for bone marrow transplant

Charlie Lock, 2, needs treatment for damage caused by rare disorder EPP

Most Read