Whitecaps hoping Yordy Reyna can provide an offensive spark


Vancouver Whitecaps' Yordy Reyna. (Darryl Dyck/CP)

VANCOUVER — It’s not hard to spot Yordy Reyna on the training pitch.

The Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder darts about, the ball sometimes appearing glued to his feet as he glides among teammates.

Then there’s the wild hairstyle resembling an erupting volcano that bounces back and forth while the 23-year-old Peruvian moves one way and then another.

Among the club’s biggest off-season additions, Reyna is feeling like himself again after a broken foot in training camp put his debut on hold for more than four months.

"It was very frustrating," Reyna said through a Spanish translator earlier this week. "It was definitely a difficult time watching from the stands … all you can do is sit.

"That’s over with now. We turn the page."

Reyna — whose first name is pronounced "Jordy" — joined the Whitecaps from Austrian champions Red Bull Salzburg in January, signing a contract with Vancouver that could stretch all the way to 2020.

He knew little of Major League Soccer and nothing about Vancouver, which made his time spent recovering in a strange environment a challenge before getting connected with people in the city’s Peruvian community.

"It’s really helped me adapt," said Reyna. "There are also a lot of Spanish-speaking teammates here, so that’s helped me a lot as well."

The dynamic offensive threat looks primed to make his first start after coming on as a substitute the last four games, possibly as early as Saturday when the Whitecaps visit FC Dallas.

"If I get a chance to score a goal, I’m going to do it," said Reyna. "If I can pass to a teammate, I’m going to do it, but the important thing is that the team gets wins."

That confidence was missing last weekend in a deflating 2-1 home loss to the Portland Timbers, a side with just 14 available outfield players because of injuries, suspensions and international duty.

While the Whitecaps scored on a corner kick — 11 of the club’s 26 goals have come from dead-ball situations — too many passes in the attacking third were off, with Vancouver seemingly out of ideas by the time the referee blew the final whistle.

It’s hoped that Reyna, who scored a dramatic winner against New York City FC in his second appearance, can drive Vancouver’s play going forward.

"He’s shown us glimpses of something we haven’t had," said Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson. "Hopefully he’ll be able to create that attacking spark.

"We need Yordy fit and firing to allow us to create more opportunities."

Reyna scored a combined 14 goals in 41 appearances during his time in Austria with Salzburg and while on loan.

The five-foot-seven, 145-pound Reyna, who was acquired using targeted allocation money and is on the books for US$533,700 this season, has also scored twice in 17 international appearances for Peru.

"He’s done really well coming in off the bench," said Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted. "He’s getting closer and closer to starting. It’s up to him to go in there and take that opportunity to show the ability we know he has."

The Whitecaps will be looking for Reyna to find chemistry with high-priced striker Fredy Montero, who leads Vancouver with six goals despite being too often marooned on an island at the top of the formation.

A designated player on loan and from his club in China, Montero is eager to see what Reyna can bring.

"He has a lot of 1-on-1 ability," said Montero. "We’re happy to have him."

Reyna declared himself fit to start when Vancouver (8-8-3), which occupies the sixth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, travels to take on first-place Dallas (9-7-3) at Toyota Stadium, a venue where the Whitecaps have never earned a point.

"I’ve been training really hard, this week especially," said Reyna. "I’m here, I’m ready and I have my teammates’ confidence. I feel good."


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