On Friday, the Vancouver Whitecaps made the long-awaited announcement that Argentine centre back Erik Godoy would be joining the club for 2019; however, they made a second, unexpected move. Marc Dos Santos finally named his first striker, 20-year-old Uruguayan Young Designated Player Joaquin Ardiaz. Ardiaz is on a one-year loan, with an option to buy, from Swiss Super League club FC Chiasso, and will (obviously) occupy an international roster spot.
The 6-foot-1 Ardiaz comes with an impressive resume. He has 21 appearances in the Belgium First Division and UEFA Europa League, scoring 5 goals in 13 starts. In 2017, he was recognized 36th in Goal.com’s NxGn’s list of the 50 best teenagers in the world, and was a finalists in 2018 for best U-21 player at a European club.
At the international level, Ardaiz has represented his country at both the U-15 and U-20 levels. In 2017, he would score two goals against Ecuador to clinch the South American U-20 Championship title for Uruguay, going on to make another seven appearances for his country as they finished fourth at the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
The move is a bit unexpected as there were several other names that were being rumoured as being a Marc Dos Santos target; although MDS did acknowledge he had a few names on his wish list. In Ardaiz though, MDS said “Joaquín is a young striker with a very high ceiling and has the physical and technical tools to succeed in MLS. He’s at the early stages of his career and we’re going to work with him to reach his full potential. We believe in his ability and we’re looking forward to adding him to the team.”
The addition of Ardaiz continues MDS youth movement as he appears to be hesitant to acquire players over 30, and is looking for players coming into their prime. Ardaiz is also the second designated player to come this off-season, with South Korean In-beom being the other.
The decision to go with such a young squad provides plenty of opportunity for growth, but also could leave the club with little in veteran leadership. In addition, it could lead to some initial growing pains. However, MDS has made it clear that he is looking long-term rather than short and these moves certainly signal that he is attempting to build a core and an identity rather than a one-year rental player.
Pronunciation: hwah-keen ar-dah-eez
Date of Birth: January 11, 1999 in Salto, Uruguay
Hometown: Salto, Uruguay
Status: International, Young Designated Player
Last club: FC Chiasso (SUI SL: ‘18 - ’19) / Frosinone Calcio (ITA SA: ’18-’19 on-loan)