Toronto FC has several attacking players to rely on throughout the 2021 MLS season, but its newest face could be the one that brings an added spark following TFC’s quarterfinal exit from the Concacaf Champions League on Tuesday.
Designated Player signing Yeferson Soteldo joined the TFC squad for the first time after the Venezuelan forward was acquired from Brazilian club Santos last week. Soteldo, the latest South American talent to make the move to MLS, took part in training and even got to go head-to-head with head coach Chris Armas during drills.
Armas, a former longtime player in the league, was quickly impressed by his new signing, who will be keen to make an impact for TFC this weekend.
“It was cool to see him in person,” Armas said in a conference call Thursday. “I hopped into the drill and stood right next to him, to see if I could get on his same page. Even in a little segment like that you could see, wow, how intelligent. The ideas..and it’s just day number one..I’m pretty sure his first touch was an upper 90 bullet.”
Soteldo is coming off a sensational campaign with Santos, where he was named to the 2020 Copa Libertadores Best XI. The 23-year-old delivered many positive moments in Brazil, scoring 18 goals and registering 16 assists in 85 matches for the South American powerhouse.
Now with TFC’s attack needing a boost due to several injuries, Soteldo has arrived just in time to show what he can bring to the mix.
“Training was great, I was really anxious to get on the field and meet my teammates,” Soteldo said through a translator. “I was looking forward to this moment.”
“He’s committed to running for the team,” Armas said of Soteldo. “As much as we talk about pressing and that dialogue, it’s still about meeting the demands and doing what’s required for the team. There are guys who run for themselves, then there are guys who run for the team. You can see even on a day like today, he’s committed to the team. He’s an exciting player, can’t wait for our supporters and MLS to see what he’s all about.”
All smiles 😄 pic.twitter.com/6t6WoIjNB3
— Toronto FC (@TorontoFC) May 6, 2021
Soteldo’s versatility and creativity makes him an eye-raising addition to the impressive list of Venezuelan talent joining MLS. Atlanta United striker Josef Martinez has quickly become one of the best in the league since his arrival in 2017 while Philadelphia Union midfielder Jose Martinez is developing into one of the top No. 6 options.
With TFC aiming to pick up several trophies in Armas’ first season in charge, Soteldo will need to be ready to hit the ground running. Saturday’s trip to face the New York Red Bulls will be Soteldo’s first opportunity of many with TFC this season, and the forward is excited to replicate the success of his international teammate Josef Martinez.
“It’s an honor to be a Designated Player, but I don’t see it as a pressure,” Soteldo said. “I wanted to come to MLS to make history. Josef Martinez is like my brother, I’ve seen the success he’s had. That’s what I want in Toronto.”