The Spanish playmaker came to the Reds with plenty of pedigree and a skillset that seemed destined to translate well to MLS. But he was also in the unenviable position of filling the Designated Player spot vacated by Sebastian Giovinco — one of the most productive and dynamic DPs in MLS history and one of the driving forces behind the TFC team that won the Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup in 2017. It was anyone's guess as to whether Pozuelo would be able to fill that lofty void.
Fast-forward to the end of his first MLS campaign with the Reds gearing up for another run in the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs and Pozuelo has shown he's up to the task. The 28-year-old logged 12 goals and 12 assists in 28 starts, numbers that got close to matching the 13g/15a line Giovinco provided last season. It's only one season, and time will tell if he can continue to produce at that rate, but he's off to a good start. Part of a reason for the solid showing, Pozuelo said in an interview with TUDN.com, is the comfort level he's felt off the field as he's adapted to his new surroundings, adding that his hope is to stay with the Reds for the foreseeable future.
"My family, my wife and my kids are very happy here," Pozuelo said. "I feel that this is the best place I've been so far and I'm very happy with the city, with my kids and their school and my wife is also happy. The people here are nice and they've helped us with everything.
"For a soccer player it's obvious that playing is important but your personal life is also important — that your kids are happy helps a lot for a player to adapt and feel at ease. Toronto has been special to me from the moment I arrived and it's the best place I've been to this point and I hope to be here for many more years."
Pozuelo also revealed to TUDN that he shared his experiences with newly signed Chicago Fire midfielder Alvaro Medran, whom he communicated with over Instagram when Medran reached out to him to pick his brain about the league.
"One of the thing I told Medran is that MLS is a very competitive league where you're going to face very complicated matches, where the players are physically strong, the referees allow you to play," Pozuelo said. "It surprised me. When I arrived, [former TFC midfielder] Victor Vazquez told me 'Don't think that you're going to come to MLS to take it easy. It's a very competitive league.' I remember these words because they're true. It's like that."
"Here it's a little different [compared to Spain] because there's not one team that's superior to the rest, like Barcelona or Real Madrid. Any team can beat you at home or away. All the games are very competitive and you have to come out with high intensity. If not, they can beat you easily."
Carrying the momentum of his solid inaugural MLS campaign into the playoffs would be a great way for Pozuelo to further cement himself as one of the league's most dangerous attackers. He'll get his first chance to do so when the Reds take on D.C. United in their first-round matchup on Saturday (6 ET | TUDN in US; TSN4, TVAS2 in Canada).