VANCOUVER - Cristian Techera wanted to make his Vancouver Whitecaps' debut over the weekend.
After signing with the club earlier this month, the midfielder only joined up with his new teammates right before Saturday's road game against Real Salt Lake once his paperwork finally cleared.
He couldn't convince Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson to play him right away and instead watched Vancouver pick up a 1-0 road win for its Major League Soccer-leading 16th point of the season.
While Techera didn't get on the field for that one, it's clear the Whitecaps believe they have something special in the pint-sized Uruguayan winger.
"You can see the quality," Vancouver assistant Gordon Forrest said Tuesday. "You can see what he'll add to our roster. You can see how he'll fit into the play model that we're trying to set up at the club. It's great to have him around."
The five-foot-two 150-pound Techera is on a season-long loan from Club Atletico River Plate Montevideo and has already shown flashes of what he has to offer in just two training sessions.
"He's quite a good player," said midfielder Mauro Rosales. "He can be very good for our team. He has different qualities — quickness. He's very small, but I think he can handle things very well, how to react against tough players, taller players. I think with the speed that he has he can get away from them and help us in many aspects of the game."
Added defender Sam Adekugbe: "Very good player. Tidy, clean, technical, already has a bit of banter (with teammates), which is good."
Techera is the fourth Uruguayan on Vancouver's roster, which also includes defender Diego Rodriguez, striker Octavio Rivero and midfielder Nicolas Mezquida. Rivero leads MLS with five goals already this season.
"It's a new experience for me. It's a club that understands Uruguayan players. I'm excited about joining the club and MLS," Techera said through a Spanish interpreter. "It's a club that has Uruguayans and I knew (Mezquida) and played with him."
Forrest said the left-footed Techera is the type of player the Whitecaps have focused on and should blend well with the club's Latin American flavour.
"The players that we've already got in here, he'll fit in with those guys," said Forrest. "In terms of recruitment and player identification, he's coming from that country where he has the attributes that fit into what Carl's trying to do at the club in terms of his attitude — his training, how hard he's going to work and his technical ability. It's an area in South America where we're continuing to look at."
When he gets into the team, Techera will give the Whitecaps another option on dead-ball situations. But with Vancouver in excellent form with a 5-2-1 record heading into Saturday's home game against D.C. United, the 22-year-old will have to fight for his place.
"Everybody is trying to work with him and give the best impression that we can," said Rosales. "He can also see the quality in the team and how hard he has to work to be in the (starting lineup)."
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