TORONTO – Lucas Janson’s head is still spinning after what was a crazy week for the Argentine forward.
He arrived in town last Monday after being acquired by Toronto FC on loan from Tigre of Argentina’s first division. On Wednesday, he collected a winner’s medal (even though he didn’t dress for the game) following TFC’s victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps to win a third straight Canadian Championship. The next day he celebrated his 24th birthday.
On Friday, Janson trained for the first time with his new team, and on Saturday he started for TFC in his MLS debut, scoring the Reds’ lone goal in a 1-1 draw on the road against the San Jose Earthquakes.
It’s been a baptism of fire for the personable and always-smiling Argentine, who has had to hit the ground running in MLS.
“I was talking about this with a friend, that in a span of a week so many things happened, and so many nice things happened. But I’m definitely looking forward to more of a chilled-out week,” Janson told reporters through a translator after Tuesday’s practice.
Coach Greg Vanney added: “I think in a week he’s already endured a season’s worth of MLS. He showed up and went through two days of appointments, then the first time he met the group, he was getting his medal for the Canadian Championship, and then the next day he’s on the flight to San Jose.”
Janson – it’s pronounced HAN-SON – won’t get much of a break, though, as Toronto hosts the Montreal Impact at BMO Field, and based on his efforts in San Jose, he’s expected to be in Vanney’s 18-man roster. He put in a man-of-the-match performance for TFC against the Earthquakes, effectively linking up in the attack with midfielders Marky Delgado and Jonathan Osorio before being subbed out in the 66th minute.
“I’m very happy with how things turned out. It was a very quick turnaround, but it was a decent result and an okay situation for me,” Janson said.
Vanney was pleased with what he saw from the Argentine, praising his work rate, acceleration, and efficiency when in possession.
“I know he feels like he’s got more he can do … [but] I thought he stepped in and did a very solid job. You can see he’s a very smart player, he’s technically clean, he understands how to move himself around the field, and he obviously got himself into good goal scoring positions,” Vanney offered.
“He was trying to link up with players, and I thought that was all a positive start. I think it can only get better with a little bit more time.”
Born in Olavarria, about 400 kilometres southwest of Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires, Janson came up through Tigre’s youth system before graduating to the senior team. He was a member of the Tigre side that finished runners-up in the 2012 Copa Sudamericana club tournament. In total, Janson scored 10 goals and tallied 10 assists in 82 league appearances.
“It was five years at Tigre, and I felt like it was time for a change. When this opportunity arose, I dived right into it,” Janson said.
Janson learned of TFC’s interest in him about three weeks before the loan was finalized. Once he found out, he told his agent to get the deal done. He also consulted with Atlanta United defender Leandro Pires, a countryman and former Tigre teammate, about TFC and MLS.
He joins TFC at an interesting time, with the reigning MLS Cup champions fighting for their playoff lives. The Reds currently sit ninth in the Eastern Conference standings, three spots and nine points below the playoff line with only 10 games remaining in the season.
Montreal is one of the teams Toronto is trying to chase down, which means Saturday’s home contest is of critical importance, as are our all of the Reds’ final games. The margin of error is slim – very slim.
That doesn’t bother Janson.
“I take it all in stride. I come from a league where pressure comes on a daily basis. I take it for what it is. My goal is like everybody else’s, to make the playoffs,” Janson said.
Janson is on loan with TFC for the remainder of this season from Tigre, but he makes no secrets about wanting to stay in Toronto and hopes the deal can become permanent once the MLS campaign is over.
“My aspirations are to stay here,” Janson admitted.