Following Toronto FC’s hard-fought 2-1 victory over the previously unbeaten Philadelphia Union, it’s time to start talking about the dynamic duo of Spaniards Alejandro Pozuelo and Jesús Jiménez.
The pair were both on the scoresheet as the Reds presided over their third straight victory at BMO Field, another sign that Toronto’s upturn is almost in full swing.
While various noteworthy names who have stood out for TFC in the early stages of the season, Pozuelo and Jiménez’s contributions in the final third have arguably been the driving force that Toronto needed after a dismal 2021.
Jiménez has evidently adapted well to life in MLS, with five goal contributions (four goals, one assist) in his first seven games as a Red. Priceless strikes against NYCFC and Philadelphia have helped to establish himself as Toronto FC’s ‘Mr. Reliable’ on the goal scoring front.
Despite an average of just 1.4 shots per game, the Leganés-born forward has been clinical when an opportunity has presented itself.
As for Jiménez’s fellow countryman, Pozuelo has already doubled his goal tally from last season in just seven games. The 2020 MLS MVP grabbed the equalizer in the 2-1 victory over D.C. United, and the winner against Philadelphia in matchday seven.
Pozuelo may only have one assist to his name as of April 18th, but the former Swansea City midfielder has been an integral part of Toronto’s improving attack, especially when combining with new signing Jiménez, and youngsters Jayden Nelson and Luca Petrasso. Moreover, his experience and discipline on the ball is one of many reasons why Pozuelo has started and played the full 90 in TFC’s first seven games of the year.
On paper, Toronto’s Spanish duo has combined for one goal so far this season, with Jiménez heading home a cross from Pozuelo to open the scoring against the Columbus Crew in matchday three. Yet, beyond the recorded statistics, the interplay between Pozuelo and Jiménez has been an absolute joy to watch.
The win over Philadelphia reinforced that when Toronto’s No. 9 and No. 10 are playing together, they are game-changers. There is a clear connection between them on the pitch, and when it is time for the team to execute offensively, both Spaniards are almost always involved.
The 2021 campaign was one to forget for both TFC and Pozuelo, who scored just once in all competitions. After seven games in 2022, it is clear that there is already more structure to TFC’s play, which has positively impacted Pozuelo and how he contributes to the side on the pitch.
Toronto FC’s squad was plagued by injury last year, and when in the XI, Pozuelo never had forwards who would start together with him week in, week out. With that, building a strong bond up front proved to be a tough task for Pozuelo, as seen by last season’s results.
Jiménez’s arrival has given Pozuelo not only a striker who he has developed chemistry with, but also someone who has proven they can start, play full games, and score goals this early into their tenure with the club.
To put this into perspective, Yeferson Soteldo scored three goals in 24 MLS games last season. Yes, he’s not a natural No. 9, but he often played in the role last season due to Ayo Akinola’s long-term injury and the Jozy Altidore situation. Jiménez has already beaten that total in just seven league matches. As well as the goals, it’s clear that Jiménez’s attitude suits the dynamic of Toronto FC far better than Soteldo.
As the Reds steadily continues to re-establish themselves as one MLS’s formidable forces, it’s safe to say that the Pozuelo-Jiménez partnership is going to be a key ingredient for Bob Bradely’s recipe for success in 2022. In addition, both players are seemingly enjoying their football alongside one another.
After Toronto dispatched Philadelphia, Pozuelo spoke about his excitement to be playing alongside his compatriot, Jiménez.
“We understand each other, we are Spanish, we have a good feeling on and off the pitch,” said Pozuelo.
“I know him, he knows me. I’m happy to be playing with Jesús.”
It may still be early in the season, but the TFC faithful has every right to get excited about the electrifying partnership that is forming between the club’s two Spanish magnificos, Alejandro Pozuelo and Jesús Jiménez.