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Vitti adds an Argentine punch
March 16, 2009, 7:26 AM
Filed under: Pablo Vitti, Toronto FC

Pablo Vitti speaks very little English.

But the Argentine striker has no problem understanding his role with Toronto FC.

Signed early in training camp, the 23-year-old Vitti has been brought in to add some offensive punch to a team that scored just 34 goals in 30 games last season, tied for second worst in Major League Soccer.

So far, so good.

In the two games he played in the Carolina Challenge Cup here, Vitti looked comfortable in his new surroundings.

Up front alongside Chad Barrett, he often had the ball at his feet, made numerous strong runs, put in several nice crosses and sent teammates through on clear breaks at least a couple of times.

In a 2-1 win over D.C. United, Vitti started a pretty three-way passing play by putting a ball to Dwayne De Rosario, who sent a cross into Barrett who headed it into the net.

“We don’t speak the same language but are understanding each other on the field,” Vitti said through an interpreter of his quick connection with Barrett and De Rosario. “It’s easier to handle (the language barrier) with these guys because they’re good players.

“Ultimately, I see that this team has a lot of opportunities to score goals. There’s going to be a lot of offence.”

Vitti, who comes to Toronto on loan from Independiente of Buenos Aries, was part of the Argentine team that won the 2005 Under-20 World Cup in the Netherlands.

Vitti said he’s familiar with the MLS because many games are shown on TV in Argentina. He got a taste of Toronto last season when Independiente played TFC.

“When I came to play with my team in Toronto I liked the city, I liked the stadium, I liked the fans,” he said of the exhibition game. “I liked the whole set-up.”

The admiration was obviously mutual. After drilling a shot off the crossbar from 25 yards and later heading in the lone goal in the 68th minute for a 1-0 Independiente win, Toronto general manager Mo Johnston tried to sign Vitti but a deal wasn’t reached until February.

Vitti’s signing, along with the December trade for attacking midfielder and Scarborough native De Rosario, gives Toronto a much more potent attack as it embarks on its third MLS season, which begins Saturday night in Kansas City.

That was obvious in the team’s final pre-season tune-up here. They won two of three games, scored five goals and consistently were an offensive threat with the ball.

Vitti’s arrival means a more limited role for fan favourite Danny Dichio, 34, who coach John Carver brought into the last two games here in the latter part of the second half.

“I don’t think we’re going to get 90 minutes out of Danny every week so I’m going to use him sparingly,” said Carver, who wants to employ Dichio’s height and strength.

“He’s a different dimension,” Carver said. “When you’ve got the other two guys there everything goes to the feet but when Danny comes on you can mix it up a bit.”

De Rosario said practising with Vitti and watching his movements has led to “a good understanding of each other on the field.

“It’s going to take more time but it’s good so far.”

Barrett, who led the team with a combined nine goals last year in Chicago and Toronto, said he’s not surprised the newcomers have clicked into the lineup so easily.

“It’s really easy to just get into the groove with great players like that,” he said.

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