Vancouver Whitecaps FC striker, Joaquín Ardaiz at UBC on Tuesday, May 7, 2019. Photo: Har Journalist

VANCOUVER, B.C – Joaquín Ardaiz is a bit of a mystery man, the Whitecaps FC striker is in his first MLS season, and he’s yet to make his mark with Vancouver. The 20-year-old, is on a year-long loan from Swiss Super League club FC Chiasso. Ardaiz has all the talent, confidence, and skill-set to be a dangerous goal-scorer, but it’s not quite there yet.

Earlier this season, Ardaiz had his training habits called into question.

“I’ve always promised myself that I would never attack a player outside of the locker room,” Coach Marc Dos Santos explained. “I came out and I said that his training habits were not good. I said, ‘Joaquin, this is what I said publicly. It’s because I really believe in it.’ Then I showed him clips, and I went through things. At the end, he was receptive, and he understood.”

It’s always challenging coming to a new league, in a new city, with a language you’re not familiar with. On top of all those adjustments, Ardaiz was working to get fully healthy.

“The truth is, I was coming in from a small injury, a small strain,” Ardaiz explained to Har Journalist through a club interpreter. “I was just trying to manage myself with that. It was tough, complicated with not having a preseason under my belt. I’m just adjusting to what he’s (Marc Dos Santos) wanting and what he’s asking of me more, and more. Now, I’m just giving the best that I can.”

The Salto, Uruguay native, made an appearance in the first nine Whitecaps FC matches this season. Ardaiz earned his first MLS start on April 5, vs Los Angeles. While he has yet to score, Ardaiz has shown terrific awareness, and an astute ability to attack in transition. His best opportunity to score came on April 12, when hammered the ball from distance, only to see it strike off the Chicago Fire crossbar.

The six-foot one, Ardaiz, did his homework before his loan move to MLS. He knows that MLS is an ever developing league, that’s making big gains across the globe. Ardaiz leaned on players in Italy, who made the move to North America. It hasn’t taken long for him to pick up some nuances that make MLS unique.

“I watched the league previously from Italy,” Ardaiz revealed. “Obviously when Zlatan (Ibrahimovic) came, it gave them (MLS) a higher profile to the league. I think it’s a good league. The style of soccer is a little bit different. There’s some teams that are very technical, tactical. It’s also got some physicality in it as well. There are also some teams that are also unorganized, so you get a little bit of everything. Overall, I think it’s a good league.”

MLS isn’t the only thing that’s had a positive impression on Ardaiz. He’s formed a strong friendship with Whitecaps FC’s, Yordy Reyna. The Caps midfielder has helped Ardaiz settle in to the west coast.

“It wasn’t just Yordy that helped me out,” Ardaiz said. “It was the entire team. I tried to create those friendships, not just with one player, but with everyone. Not just the players that speak Spanish, or Portuguese, but with everyone. I’ve always got along with everyone with clubs I’ve played in. I try to get involved with everyone, but Yordy did help me quite a bit when I first got here. He showed me around the city, and told me the do’s and the don’t’s of the club and everything like that. I’m just trying to continue to learn, grow, improve, and give the best that I can.”

If there is one distinct characteristic with Joaquín Ardaiz, it’s without a doubt his fondness for tattoos. He has more art work than the Louvre. While outsiders may see a big, tough, imposing heavily tattooed forward. Ardaiz is much more than that. He’s a big personalty that’s always enjoying life, and looking to make the best of every situation.

“I definitely like to try and bring that attitude to the dressing room,” Ardaiz explained. “Show the players that you can be happy even if you’re not playing. If you’re playing, that’s obviously going to make you the happiest, but even if you’re not, and you’re still coming in, turning on the music first thing, trying to lighten the mood. Showing the other players you’re still in a good mindset, with a good head on your shoulders even when you’re not being called. That’s something that I learned when I was playing in Uruguay.”

His love for tattoos started off with a sentimental purpose, but then it just took on a life of it’s own.

“At first I just started with my parents names on my arms,” Ardaiz said, pointing to his parents names. “When you get one, or two, you want to get three or four. Then I started liking it more, and more. I saw teammates that had other ones as well. Before I knew it, I just started having them all over my body.”

Joaquín Ardaiz, and Vancouver Whitecaps FC (2-5-3, 9-points) will look for their first winning streak of the season when they host Cascadia rival, Portland Timbers FC (3-5-1, 10-points) on Friday, May 10, at B.C. Place.






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