VANCOUVER, B.C. – Finally, the Vancouver Whitecaps have their coveted creative attacking midfielder.
Joining to fill the club's third and final Designated Player slot, Chilean midfielder Pedro Morales arrived on Wednesday after a spell with La Liga club Málaga.
Set to play in an advanced position in the center of the "3" in Vancouver's 4-2-3-1 formation, Morales is expected to bring dynamism and a bit of magic to the Whitecaps offense.
The 28-year-old is the first real playmaker of his type at the club since Davide Chiumiento, whom the 'Caps sold to FC Zürich midway through the 2012 campaign.
“He'll make all the players around him better,” Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson said after Wednesday's training session at the University of British Columbia. “He's something that we've been missing at this club for a number of years now, and I think he's a good addition.”
Morales is expected to contribute goals and set them up, both from open play and set pieces. He's scored three times in 11 appearances for Chile at the international level, and scored four times in 22 league matches for Málaga.
Prior to that, he scored 26 goals in 87 league and continental competition as a member of Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb.
Beyond Morales' playmaking ability, given the sale of Camilo Sanvezzo to Mexican side Querétaro FC this offseason, the Chilean's strength in dead-ball situations will be particularly useful.
“It's one of the virtues I have,” Morales said through his agent, who translated from Spanish. “The set pieces, the free kicks, penalties. I hope that this can help the team for it to be in a higher rank in the league.
“If this virtue can help, it's favorable to everybody.”
- Get more Vancouver news at WhitecapsFC.com
It's uncertain what sort of role Morales will play on opening day this Saturday, as the Whitecaps host the New York Red Bulls at BC Place (7:30 pm ET, TSN in Canada, MLS Live in the US), but he hopes to play a part.
The midfielder came out to the field to watch training on Wednesday and plans to take part in Thursday's practice.
“I feel good for playing on Saturday,” Morales said in his limited English. “But I have [spent] too much [time] in airplane – Madrid, Portland; Portland, New York; New York, Vancouver – but, tomorrow I think I feel good for the training.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.