Grossi x Pablo Image

TORONTO – Pablo Piatti has put the last few months to good use.

The Argentine signed for Toronto FC as a designated player on February 7, but between a hamstring strain and the regular season being put on the hold he has yet to make an appearance.

With the MLS is Back Tournament kicking off on July 8 and TFC beginning group stage action on July 10 against D.C. United, it is something Piatti aims to rectify soon.

“The last few months I took as an advantage,” said Piatti through a translator during a conference call on Tuesday. “I was able to work on my recovery and return to strength. And now I know I’m on a good level and I'm ready to play, so I’m looking forward to Orlando.”

“Obviously, I'm very excited,” he continued. “I want to start playing, kicking the ball, and to win the tournament, be the champion, because that is the main object for us as a team.”

Another weapon in Greg Vanney’s arsenal.

“Pablo looks great,” said the coach earlier last month. “He's been very dynamic, his fitness level is good. It's been nice to have him on the ball, he’s got a good personality, he's explosive, very quick, shifty.”

“Having another left-footed player will give us more versatility and his experience is going to be well suited for [the Orlando Tournament] and the rest of the season,” Vanney highlighted. “We’re looking forward to having him back and now the key is to keep building as we start getting into competition.”

Making the jump from RCD Espanyol in Spain’s top division to MLS and moving his family to a new environment always requires a leap of faith.

For Piatti, “the decision was easy to make.”

“I had the opportunity to talk with Ali [Curtis] and Bill [Manning] and they convinced me that it was the right decision,” he continued. “My suspicions were high before coming here, but then when I got here everything was very, very good and we were just excited to be part of this new family.”

“We're happy that it happened, the way it turned out,” added Piatti, speaking for his family. “And we’re looking forward to the next couple of years.”

It has without doubt been a strange introduction to their new surroundings for the Piattis. Pablo arrived by himself for preseason and the family arrived just before Toronto went into lockdown.

There too he made the best of the situation.

“We took the time to strengthen our relationship as a family,” explained Piatti. “We work on different things, spend time on things that we usually don't have time for during normal times. We always knew we wanted to get to know the city, go around, get used to it, adapt to the weather and all that stuff, but, at the time, we were not able to do it. Now, that everything is in a better condition, we've been going out on walks to get to know a little bit.”

“We're going to have more time later on to get to know the city better,” he added. “It’s going to be hard to leave my family behind, but it’s part of my job, so they will understand and support me.”

Plus, he knows they’ll be in good hands.

“I was surprised, but in a good way, to see everything about the club,” said the versatile winger. “Since my first contact with the club and Alejandro Pozuelo, I was following the league and got to see a couple of games from the team. I enjoyed watching them play because they have very good players, good quality; the coach is someone who has a good character and good mentality. That’s something that [you can] recognize [in] the team.”

“And on the other side with the organization, I've never seen or experienced being in a club that is so organized with as good structure,” he continued. “Not only on the sport side, but also making sure that we're good as a family. It's something that I'm very thankful for: the way that I’ve been welcomed to the team.”

While worried like everyone else around the world during these times, Piatti is putting his confidence in the organization.

“I'm sure that they have been doing everything to have the measurements in place and the protocols to make sure that nothing happens and to keep everything under control,” he said. “On the football side, I'm looking forward to playing. I'm excited to have people see me play and to show what I’m capable of. It will be a scenario like in tournaments. It will be interesting to see how everything plays out there.”

Even without fans in the stands; or stands for that matter.

“It's a weird feeling,” admitted Piatti having had some sessions in a silent BMO Field the past week. “It was weird to see the stadium empty and know that we’re going to be playing games like that in Orlando.”

“A weird feeling, soccer needs the fans, we as players need the push of the fans, but we have to do it that way because we know that we're taking care of everyone,” he urged. “We have to be professionals, adapt to the situation, and just play as it is right now.”

Introduction to the media done, Piatti can’t wait for the fans to get to know him.

“People might know a little bit about me, what they’ve seen on the pitch, but everything that they need to know, they will be seeing it very soon,” he promised. “I'm a very extroverted person, that likes to be out there trying to lead the team in the best way I can. I consider myself a person who has a winning mentality and I like to set objectives to reach our main goals. With the team that we have and the mentality I have, we can accomplish great things.”