The Vancouver Whitecaps have signed 19 year old Ecuadorian midfielder Pedro Vite from Independiente Del Valle as U-22 initiative (a.k.a young money) player. Obviously every transfer has risk associated with it but I think Vite might be a real steal for Vancouver. Read on to see why.
Pedro Vite has just completed his first season as a professional footballer. He has primarily played as a playmaking #8 but has also had a couple of appearances on the wing and one in a #10 role. Previously he won the U20 Copa Libertadores and played for Ecuador at both U-17 and U-20 level. For the U-17s Vite had 3 goals and 3 assists in 12 appearances (0.81 G+A/90). In his one game (so far) for the U20s he got an assist (1.00 G+A/90). In his first pro season Vite had had 2 goals and 4 assists (0.82 G+A/90) in domestic competition and has 1 goal and 2 assists in the Copa Libertadores (0.48 G+A/90).
How Good is the Ecuador League Relative to MLS?
So the next obvious question to ask is how players who move to MLS from Ecuador do. As the table below shows, it seems to be a transition most players make quite comfortably.
MLS Production Vs Ecuador Production
|Player||MLS G+A/90||Ecuador G+A/90|
|Player||MLS G+A/90||Ecuador G+A/90|
This chart shows players who played in both MLS and the first division in Ecuador. This sample includes 7 players who played in a variety of midfield and forward positions. On average the players maintained about 83% of their production when moving from Ecuador to MLS.
Outliers are Jose Cifuentes, who had no goals or assists in Ecuador, and Luis Amarilla who saw a significant cut in his production in MLS. Cifuentes’ rise in production can probably be attributed to being deployed in a more advanced role and playing for the free scoring LAFC. Amarilla’s cut in production can probably be explained by a similar reduction in his playing time (seriously, he played like 500 minutes, someone should really give him a second chance). We also see a bit of a drop off for Anderson Julio but he is a fairly recent MLS signing and that number might even out a bit over time.
Overall it seems like you can expect a slight drop from players moving from Ecuador. But the drop is more comparable to the difference in production between the Bundesliga and the Premier League (12%, I am told by people who have can be bothered to look in to these things) than it is to the difference between the Premier League and the backwaters of world football.
So...Is Pedro Vite Sick?
If Vite’s production in the Ecuador league dropped by 16% when he moved to MLS then he would be the most productive centre midfielder by some distance and in the top 25 most productive MLS players overall. So, like, maybe?
Now, there’s lots of other things to consider. This sample size is only 7 players and even within it we can see a fair amount of variation. Vite has only played 1200 minutes as a professional. That’s not a huge amount of time and we know players have ups and downs in their career.
Thanks to Peter Galindo we have a radar of Vite’s data in the Copa Libertadores. The Libertadores is probably a high enough level where you can say that what a player does there is probably transferable to MLS.
What took y̶o̶u̶ your friend so long to request this?!— Peter Galindo (@GalindoPW) July 17, 2021
As someone who's seen lots of Vite in #Libertadores, there's room for growth. But the vision: #VWFC https://t.co/z5NtIWrZwA pic.twitter.com/h9r2vVtNcV
Based on this data we can conclude that Vite is an accurate passer who produces a decent amount of offence. Interestingly he joins a growing contingent of Whitecaps players who score really well in pressure regains. Axel Schuster has stressed work ethic as something they really want in the players they sign. So it makes sense that they would sign players who are always pressuring the ball. Of course in practice the Whitecaps have rarely gotten any kind of consistent press going but it’s interesting to know they have players who can do it.
Here is how some of those stats would compare against MLS midfielders if his stats did translate directly.
That is pretty good for a 19 year old. Of course, although Vite mostly lines up as a #8, his role is really that of an attacking midfielder. So here is how he compares to #10s in MLS.
Now keep in mind that there are only 23 players with over 250 minutes played as an attacking midfielder so far and that a disproportionate number of the are DPs. So being around the average is a lot more impressive for a #10 than it is for a #8. Vite is no Emanuel Reynoso (a 19 year old who was as good as Reynoso would probably not be signing with the Whitecaps) but he has a similar level of production to guys like Victor Vasquez, Jamie Montiero, and Andreas Ricurate. For a guy who’s not even old enough to drink in the States, that really is pretty good.
Because Vite is a highly thought of prospect in Ecuador he has lots of video easily searchable on YouTube. The YouTube channel “Ecuador Talents” has three videos on him that show all of his touches from three games in this year’s Copa Libertadores. Two of these games are against Brazilian side Gremio and the other is against Peruvian outfit Universetario de Deportes (he is #18 in these videos).
Let’s look at these games in the order they happened. First the two Gremio games, which were played five days apart.
In these videos we can see that, although Vite is involved in creating 6 chances, he has some struggles against a Brazilian Serie A side. A lot of his more aggressive passes are misplaced, he looks a bit uncomfortable using his right foot, and he is frequently muscled off the ball. It’s not like he’s totally ineffective, he is creating chances and there are a couple of flashes of brilliance, but he’s not as dominant against that level of opposition. Of course, a 19 year old who was fully ready to hang with players in the Brazilian top flight probably would not be signing with the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Next let’s move to the game against Universetario, which was played about a month later (remember, he is only 19 so a month can actually make quite a bit of difference).
In this game Vite looks much more in control and bags a couple of assists. His passing is a lot more accurate and being muscled off the ball isn’t really a problem because opposition players rarely get close enough for it to be an issue. Vite demonstrates tremendous passing range, close control, and off the ball movement. Clearly at the level of the Peruvian league he is a dominant player.
I am not ready to declare definitively that Vite is the next big thing in MLS. However, based on the evidence that is available to me, I think there is a good chance he will succeed. He clearly has some weaknesses in his game but the fact that he is so effective despite those weaknesses and is only 19 suggests that he could develop into a top MLS player.