By Randy Davis
Sergio Aguero, Lionel Messi, and Pablo Vitti. If you haven’t heard of the first two, then you clearly haven’t followed Spain’s La Liga over the last few years. Aguero has been scoring goals in bunches with Atletico Madrid while Lionel Messi has emerged as one of the top stars in the world plying his trade with Barcelona.
So where is Vitti? He’s in Toronto.
Of the three young, attacking, Argentine soccer players who faced the U.S. in the 2005 U-20 World Cup in Holland it was only Vitti who was a starter. He appeared on the brink of something big at the time, and Europe was undoubtedly in his future. However, that shocking 1-0 upset at the hands of the Americans may have foretold the sluggish start of his professional career. Vitti did in fact make it to Europe, but his brief stay in the Ukrainian Premier League likely wasn’t what he had hoped for. Prior to that he played for Rosario Central, Banfield, and briefly for Independiente in Argentina, but did not have great success at any of the stops along the way.
It was his short stay with Independiente that brought him into the crosshairs of Toronto FC, and eventually led to a loan move to the MLS club.
“I came on tour with my team (Independiente) last year, and we played some of the teams in the league (MLS). I was interested and there was interest in me. It didn’t happen at that time, but when it happened I took advantage of it and came,” Vitti told Goal.com while in a preseason tournament in Charleston, South Carolina with his new club.
Thanks to the success recently of several players in MLS from Argentina, the league is getting a lot of exposure in that country. This was part of the allure that gave Vitti interest in the league. Vitti also liked what Toronto in particular had to offer.
“When I came here I liked the team. I liked the stadium. I liked the fans. I liked the whole setup.”
Toronto FC coach John Carver and general manager Mo Johnston liked what they saw in Vitti from their first glimpse of him. Johnston was reported to have said after signing Vitti, “We actually made him an offer after that game (against Independiente), but it was refused at that time.”
As the team makes final preparations for the upcoming season, Carver still likes what he sees as evidenced by 3 starts in 3 matches in the Carolina Challenge Cup tournament, which just concluded.
“Well, a lot of people haven’t seen Pablo (Vitti) play yet, and they are making opinions about him, but let me tell you, I have seen him play against us for Independiente, and I like what I saw from that day,” Carver explained.
Vitti is expected to team up with forward Chad Barrett for TFC, which is also loaded with attacking players in the midfield. The team is hoping this combination produces goals, as the team finished next to last in goals scored in 2008. But Vitti knows that developing an effective strike partnership with Barrett may take some time.
“We don’t speak the same language, but what’s important is what’s on the field. We are beginning to understand each other on the field but it’s going to take some time.”
Toronto FC clearly hopes that this understanding develops quickly. They are betting that he can get his career back on the path that appeared to be on before that U-20 World Cup. If that happens, then maybe we will see Vitti join his compatriots in La Liga.
Randy Davis is a regular contributor to Goal.com