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The WTR Top 20, No. 2: The Victor Vazquez effect

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Victor Vazquez was better than anyone could have expected

MLS: MLS CUP-Seattle Sounders vs Toronto FC John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto FC fans didn’t fully know what they were getting when Toronto FC signed Liga MX midfielder and former Barcelona product Victor Vazquez, but they were pleasantly surprised. He was arguably the best player on the pitch for Toronto FC game in and game out in 2017. He has the ability to take over games because he’s just so smart and quick and his soccer knowledge is beyond his years.

Obviously playing in the famed Barcelona system helped Vazquez become the player he is today, and Toronto couldn’t be any happier. The Spaniard was brought to TFC to be the missing piece and help bring Toronto an MLS Cup, and that he did. In his second full season, Toronto will be expecting him to take an even bigger role with the club as they look to win the CONCACAF Champions League and a second consecutive MLS Cup.

MLS: MLS CUP-Seattle Sounders vs Toronto FC Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

His great sense of vision and poise, especially in big situations are what makes him a fan favourite and one of the first names on the team sheet game in and game out. He has been able to help make players around him better, just ask Jonathan Osorio or Jozy Altidore. In his first season all Vazquez could do was win and help Toronto to be the first team to complete the treble.

Now with a new season and some new faces, Toronto and Vazquez will look at making that four titles within a calendar year. No one had as big of an impact on a squad as Vazquez en route to helping them set records in wins (20) and points (69).

His playmaking ability is what sets him apart from many players in MLS and he finished second in the league in assists this past season with 16 on the season. According to Whoscored.com, Vazquez averaged 2.5 key passes per game and his key passes that set Jozy Altidore in on goal for the winners against Columbus and Seattle will go down as great sporting moments in TFC history. For a midfielder who touched the ball a lot this season he was never below 74% pass success in any game this season. That stat just goes to show how good of a player he was last season and how much he meant to Toronto and their success.

While mainly known for his ability to make the passes that helped lead to goals, Vazquez scored some goals of his own. To go along with his 17 assists on the season he also added 10 goals including the playoffs, although none were bigger than the one he scored in the MLS Cup Final that gave Toronto some breathing room (not that they needed any).

MLS: MLS CUP-Seattle Sounders vs Toronto FC Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Vazquez made a lot of passes on the season, but none were as perfect as the ball he played to Altidore against the Columbus Crew in the Eastern Final. This season will be a little more tougher because teams have seen what Vazquez can do and they will gameplan to keep the ball off his feet, but it likely won’t help their cause.

There was nothing left for Vazquez to win last season as Toronto won the treble, but this season the Reds will be looking to add to that trophy collection as they fight to win the CONCACAF Champions League. While focusing on that they will also have to focus on repeating as MLS Cup champions, which will be just as tough. With all the additions to the team and Vazquez back, Toronto should be capable of holding off the opposition and winning the title for the second consecutive year.