Small in stature, big on talent

Michael McColl

VANCOUVER, BC – At 5-foot-2, he may strike a diminutive figure. But new Vancouver Whitecaps FC winger Cristian Techera is hoping to make a huge impression in Major League Soccer.

Nicknamed El Bicho (“The Bug”) by his father, Techera could be the final piece of the puzzle for Whitecaps FC coach Carl Robinson, for now at least. A striker, a winger and a centre back were at the top of Robinson’s shopping list in the offseason.

He found them all in South America, adding MLS leading scorer Octavio Rivero and defender Diego Rodriguez this winter before officially bringing in the 22-year-old Techera on a season-long loan, with a transfer option, from Uruguayan side River Plate Montevideo.

“It’s a big change for me, from one place to another,” Techera told media this week through a translator when asked about his move to MLS. “I really want to experience it and to see how everything goes. I’ve seen [the Whitecaps] play back home. Soccer here is much nicer and prettier and suits my qualities as a player.”

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Techera met up with his new teammates for the first time last Saturday, joining the ‘Caps ahead of their match at Real Salt Lake. The winger was itching to play, but after nearly 15 hours of flying via Buenos Aires and Dallas, Robinson thought better of it.

Watching the game from the stands, Techera was impressed by the spirit he saw from his new team in their 1-0 road victory.

“I can tell the team is united,” Techera added. “I can tell they’re willing to fight for results, and I’ve come to help.”

With his paperwork finally sorted out, Techera arrived in Vancouver on Sunday. He has barely had time to unpack but describes what he’s seen of the city so far as “very nice, beautiful, very different from Uruguay.” It will take some time for him to settle in, with his wife and two daughters set to join him in Canada in around a month. Until they arrive, Techera has some familiar faces to keep him company.

He becomes the fourth Uruguayan in Vancouver alongside Rivero, Rodriguez and Nicolas Mezquida. Techera and Mezquida go a long way back. They first met at age 14 and have played together on a regional team as well as opposite each other in the Primera Division, while the winger played with Rodriguez’s brother at River Plate.

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“It really does help,” Techera said of the amount of South Americans already at the club. “It makes me feel at home. [Nico and I], we’ve been friends from a young age. But there’s not only Nico, but Octavio and Diego. It’s good for me.”

Describing himself as “a very fast player and technical” who likes to have the ball at his feet, Techera has already been impressing with his skills at training this week and has his eyes on staking a claim to a starting spot.

Robinson has clearly liked what he’s seen so far but tried to dampen immediate expectations of the player as he finds his feet in his new surroundings.

“You can see the quality he has,” Robinson said of Techera. “He scores goals, but I’m not going to rush Cristian. Delighted to have him here. When I bring players into this group, I want to bring in players that are going to affect the team. I think we can do that with Techera, but he’s got to fight for his place. He’s like everyone else.”

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