Bye Week Breakdown: Jaap Stam and Gustavo Vallecilla (Part 2)
In this Part 2 of Bye week Breakdown, I've detailed what I found to be an impressive interview. Thursday, media members got the chance to speak with FC Cincy's new Ecuadorian Center Back Gustavo Vallecilla. Gustavo is just 21 years old, and is on loan from S.D. Aucas in Ecuador. Vallecilla comes at a time when FC Cincinnati is razor thin at Center Back. It's a position that has come under scrutiny lately as the pairing of Nick Hagglund and Tom Pettersson has seemed to struggle in the club's first three matches. In his conference, manager Jaap Stam preached patience with Gustavo as he is very talented but also very young, and playing in a new league. There is reason for excitement though, Vallecilla possesses the skills that Stam's system requires. He's big at 6' 3" and has shown in Ecuador's top league and for their Youth National teams, that he has the ability to link passes with the midfield and start the attack. The exciting new addition spoke with media through an interpreter on Thursday.
On his first impressions of the club and his teammates.
"It's been very good, when I arrived I had a very warm welcome. Not only are they good teammates but also good people. They all made me feel very welcome as soon as I arrived. Now we just have to focus on training."
Gustavo was asked how he see's the club's level of play compared to Ecuador's top league.
"I think the game here in the USA is a lot quicker than it is in Ecuador. There's a lot of high press and transitions, a lot of quick touches. I think as a team we need to start linking together to have a better product on the field. I think as I continue to train with my teammates I'll be able to understand how the team wants to play and I will be able to contribute more."
On what he knew about MLS and how he's been able to settle in with the club so far.
"I knew that it was a very quick league. I know some players on other teams and they were telling me that MLS is a league that is growing very fast. So now I'm here and I'm ready to go."
Gustavo had to wait over two weeks, both in Ecuador and in the states before being able to train with his new club. First he had receive his Visa and then complete Health and Safety protocols before he was able to start training with the team. He was able to keep training with his team in Ecuador and then away from his teammates in Cincinnati.
He was able to give a little insight on what those weeks in limbo were like for him.
"Yeah, it did take some time. It took close to three weeks. During that time, I continued training with my team in Ecuador and It was kind of a mini preseason if I'm being honest. Then, as soon as I got my visa, I headed here to train."
On what he thinks he can bring to the team and what he thinks his role with the club will be.
"As a player, you're not just playing for yourself, but for your teammates and for your family."
"I think I'm good with the ball at my feet. I can dribble out from the back line and I'm precise with my passes. So I can help with building from the back. I will say that I feel that play very confidently on the back line. I'm one of those players that like to leave it all on the field. As a player, you're not just playing for yourself, but for your teammates and for your family. So I feel that once we can communicate better, I think I can contribute much to the team."
Last week Gustavo had one full day of training with the team, however he was still brought to Orlando with the club as part of the match day 18. Manager Jaap Stam mentioned that he chose to bring Gustavo so that he could bond with the team, however he did not expect to play him. Then during the game, center back Tom Pettersson suffered a head injury and Gustavo started warming up to come on to replace him if need be. As it turned out, Pettersson was able to carry on.
He was asked how ready he feels he was if he had to come on and play versus Orlando, and if he feels like he will be ready to start if called upon for the home opener next weekend against Miami.
" If I play against Inter Miami, I will give it everything."
"Yeah, I think as a professional player, you always have to be ready. If I would've had to play I would have given it my all. If I play against Inter Miami, I will give it everything. I'll just focus on my strengths, because you have to be ready for when the opportunity arises."
On if he was able to explore the city and if so what his impressions of Cincinnati itself as well as the club's world class training facility and stadium.
"The facility is great, not only that but the staff that works there is training us very well. They make us feel welcome and are always talking to us to make sure we are doing well. The stadium is spectacular! It's on us to treat these people and facilities with respect, because they do so much for us."
Gustavo is on loan from S.D. Aucas in Ecuador for one year. When he was announced in early April, General Manager Gerard Nijkamp had this to say. “We’ve made it a priority to add a center back to our roster prior to the start of the season, and we believe Gustavo provides a skillset that fits well with our playing philosophy.”
For his final question Thursday, he spoke about the loan process and what he feels he needs to show to get an opportunity to stay in Cincy longer.
"I don't think that being on loan changes anything. I was brought here to do what I know how to do. So I don't really think the loan changes anything for me. I'm just always going to be giving it my best."
It can be difficult to gauge a player's personality through an interpreter, however Vallecilla seems to be a confident player who is driven to succeed. He seems to possess the type of personality a manager like Jaap Stam would seek out in a center back. Gustavo seems to fit the style of player the club wants and at a position of dire need.
However, as Jaap Stam said, it's important to give Vallecilla time to adapt to a new league. He's a young talented player to be sure, but it would be unfair to expect him to step in and save the back line. That being said, there seems to be a good probability that he will get the chance to do just that. I'm sure that FCC fans will be very interested to see Stam's lineup for the home opener next week. I mean, why not give him a shot... eh?
By: Rob Burkhardt