VANCOUVER, B.C.—It might have been only a fleeting glimpse, but Yordy Reyna's preseason performances for the Vancouver Whitecaps were an exciting look at what the 23-year-old will bring to Major League Soccer in his debut season in North America.
Reyna's touches, movement, and finishing at the preseason Rose City Invitational in Portland demonstrated just why Carl Robinson was so keen to land the Peruvian from Austrian Bundesliga champions FC Red Bull Salzburg.
Then, in the closing minutes of the Whitecaps final preseason match against Portland, a quick turn, a clumsy tackle, and Reyna was gone for four months after needing surgery on a fractured fifth metatarsal on his left foot.
It was a huge blow for the Whitecaps' plans for the season, but after what has felt like an eternity to the striker, Reyna says he now "feels ready" to finally come in to the team and make a difference.
"It's been a long recovery process," Reyna told reporters through a translator at Whitecaps training this week. "I've been practicing a lot, so I feel a lot better now. It's been really tough these last few months with the pain, and the desire to play, but thankfully that time's past now and I'm ready to get on the field."
Reyna seems to have settled in well into his new surroundings and is simply eager to get the next challenge of his career finally underway.
"I wanted a change of environment," Reyna said. "The MLS always looked like a promising league ... I feel good here. I have my family here and it's a nice, calm city. Having a lot of Spanish-speaking teammates as well has helped me transition."
Reyna's return will delight Robinson, who has seen his side ravaged by injuries and international call-ups. Yet despite their troubles, the Whitecaps have kept themselves in playoff contention as they await the gradual return of some key personnel and what they will offer Vancouver for this second half of the season.
"[Expect] some exciting, attacking play," Robinson said. "He's a very good player, a technical player. It's nice to have him back. He's been training for two weeks.
"He brings a different type of player to the roster that we've got. He's a good footballer and he wants to commit players to the final third. He'll bring something different to what we've got, but we'll bleed him in slowly."
Reyna gives Robinson a couple options in attack. He's primarily been a forward and winger during most of his career, but Vancouver view him as a No. 10 option or second striker in support of the struggling Fredy Montero.
With Christian Bolanos and Nicolas Mezquida both still out injured, the Whitecaps options in the attacking midfield position are very limited as they head in to face an in-form Chicago Fire side on Saturday (7 pm ET | TSN, MLS LIVE in US), and although that match will prove too early for Reyna to get his first MLS start, the plan is to give the Peruvian a run out in the closing minutes to test the water and his fitness.
"He's a terrific young player," Robinson said. "I don't think he'll start the game, because he's not ready to do that yet, but coming off the bench, maybe 15 or 20 minutes to wean him in a little bit on Saturday and Wednesday might be an option for us. We're delighted to have him back. He's a good player. He's like a new signing for us."