Toronto FC introduced their newest designated player on Thursday afternoon: Yeferson Soteldo.
The 23-year-old midfielder/forward/winger was officially signed on April 26, but his appearance in front of the camera, wearing TFC red, ahead of this weekend’s match against the New York Red Bulls properly heralds his impending debut for the club.
“He is a player that, while young, is very experienced and is going to add a new dynamic to our team and live up to the term ‘designated player,’” said TFC President Bill Manning in his opening remarks. “Ali Curtis did a great job seeing this deal through – it was very complicated, the folks in Santos were very instrumental in pulling it through, his agent Sebastian [Cano]. We started out one day at 10 am and went to 1 am to finish out this deal.”
“We're very excited and we can't wait,” continued Manning. “He had his first training session today with us, it was great to see him around our players, so we're very pleased.”
TFC General Manager, master of the complicated transfer negotiation, Ali Curtis, added: “We know that he'll be great for the team, great for the city, our fans and so it's very exciting.”
“I'd like to say thanks to our board for supporting us in this acquisition. I also want to say thank you to Sebastian and [Agencia] Secasports who are here to make this happen,” he continued. “It was a complicated deal, but we all worked collaboratively and we're happy to see it through and start this journey. He has all the qualities to be successful in this league and within our team and to help us achieve our goals.”
His international transfer certificate and quarantine cleared Soteldo took part in his first session with his new club earlier in the day.
“I was really excited and anxious to be on the field and train with my teammates. I was looking forward to that moment,” Soteldo said. “My decision to come here was mainly because I saw the whole history of the club and MLS.”
“I saw when the team was MLS Cup champion with Jozy [Altidore], Michael [Bradley] and Sebsatian [Giovinco]. I spoke with my parents, my agent and I mentioned that I was looking to move to MLS because of the growth that this league has had over the past few years,” he explained. “I want to be a part of that history and growth because it could be one of the top leagues in the world.”
“I want to say thank you to Bill and Ali and the coach for their trust because that was the main reason I decided to come to Canada,” Soteldo elaborated. “I felt like they trusted me and wanted me on the team and I had the same feeling the first moment that I spoke with them.”
“Obviously, I want to give an opportunity to my family, my kids, to grow here. So the decision was very easy for me,” he added. “The city, the team, the club, and how it treated me. They’ve treated me great since the day that we start talking. [It] was really easy for me to make the decision to move here.”
It didn’t hurt that his compatriot Erickson Gallardo had good things to say about the club.
“We spoke every day since we knew that there was a possibility of me coming,” said Soteldo. “He explained everything to me. He was great, saying how the whole city welcomes you in a positive way, people are really kind in Canada and Toronto, and he always told me great things about the city, about the club, how people in the club treat you, how they are always available to help and support you in any matter.
“That was really important for me to know because I wanted my family to have a good opportunity,” he added. “It made all the decisions easier.”
And that Atlanta United FC striker, Venezuelan international, Josef Martinez has helped raise the profile of MLS in their homeland.
“His influence was big for me,” said Soteldo. “We’ve known each other since we were kids. I remember seeing him playing in Caracas and I was a ballboy passing the ball to him.”
“Everything he has done is wonderful for himself and also for Venezuelan soccer,” he continued. “He has opened the door for a lot of Venezuelans to come to MLS. My role right now is to keep working hard, try to do the same things, and make history with Toronto FC.”
Another attacking threat is music to the ears of Chris Armas, who sees Soteldo slotting nicely into his system and lineup.
“No, I don't think we'll have to tweak anything,” said the TFC coach. “We'll make sure we use him in ways that he can be most effective. I can promise you we're not going to ask him to run around the field pressing all the time.”
“We want to, like we do with Alejandro [Pozuelo] and Jozy, put him in spots to succeed, which is around the goal, where they can do what we all want them to do,” added Armas. “He's really intelligent, he understands space. I can promise you you'll see him attacking and being dangerous in the final third.”
Asked how he feels about pressing, Soteldo replied: “I trust myself.”
“I had a chance to talk with the coach and he showed me a little bit of his tactics and the ideas that he has for me and what he wants to see from me on the field,” he added. “We have a good group of players with a lot of talent, so the most important thing for me is just to be able to connect with them and play. It's more having a good personality and trusting myself.”
TFC fans will be seeing Soteldo wearing the #30 jersey soon.
“He is available,” said Armas, asked if Soteldo could factor on Saturday. “We're gauging where he's at physically, but he's coming fresh out of his season, so he'll be ready to go in some way.”
Said Soteldo: “I can't remember the exact date when I had the last game, but it was against Barcelona SC (of Ecuador on April 21, 2021 in the Copa Libertadores).”
“[Since] that game, I had to stay quiet and stay put in quarantine, but I'm ready and when the coach needs me I'll be available,” he added. “I'm ready to start making this dream come true.”