Pint-sized White­caps mid­fielder Techera buzzing early in 2017

The Daily Courier - - SPORTS -

VAN­COU­VER (CP) — Cris­tian Techera had al­ready scored in a game ear­lier this month when he made a cru­cial play that went largely un­no­ticed.

Al­ways keen to go for­ward, the pint-sized Van­cou­ver White­caps mid­fielder — Techera stands just five foot two — tracked back some 40 yards into his own half to block what could have been a dan­ger­ous cross.

The com­plete per­for­mance at both ends of the pitch in that 4-2 de­feat of the Los An­ge­les Gal­axy, the White­caps’ first vic­tory of the Ma­jor League Soc­cer sea­son, was just one ex­am­ple of how the Uruguayan nick­named “The Bug” has re­dis­cov­ered his form in 2017.

“There’s a lit­tle bit of fire un­der Cris­tian right now,” said Van­cou­ver goal­keeper David Ousted. “He’s play­ing re­ally well.” That wasn’t the case last sea­son. Techera made an im­me­di­ate im­pact af­ter join­ing the White­caps on loan from his club in Uruguay in 2015, scor­ing seven times in 22 games, in­clud­ing 17 starts, while also set­ting up five other goals.

Van­cou­ver had seen enough to fi­nal­ize a per­ma­nent deal be­fore the 2016 cam­paign, but Techera showed up at train­ing camp out of shape be­fore a groin in­flam­ma­tion dogged him for a chunk of the year.

A for­get­table sea­son for both the player and the club — the White­caps missed the play­offs af­ter fin­ish­ing sec­ond in the Western Con­fer­ence in 2015 — saw Techera score just twice in 29 MLS ap­pear­ance, 19 of those starts.

“If you lose fo­cus on your foot­ball ev­ery­thing takes a hit as well,” said Van­cou­ver head coach Carl Robin­son. “I sat down with him at the end of (2016). I told him he had to come back with cer­tain re­quire­ments.

“He met those re­quire­ments and he’s get­ting the re­wards.”

Techera, who did man­age five goals in the White­caps’ CONCACAF Cham­pi­ons League cam­paign that ended in the sem­fi­nals, has been buzzing through the early part of the sched­ule.

“I feel much bet­ter than last sea­son,” Techera said through a Span­ish in­ter­preter af­ter prac­tice this week. “I feel strong, I feel con­fi­dent.

“I’m very happy. We’re play­ing sim­ple, play­ing to­gether.”

The 24-year-old could have scored a few more times against the Gal­axy, and in his fourth MLS start last Fri­day at home against Seat­tle he de­liv­ered a pin­point cross into the Sounders penalty area that striker Fredy Mon­tero buried for the opener of a 2-1 win.

“He has a good left foot,” said White­caps mid­fielder Chris­tian Bolanos. “He’s small, but he can make trou­ble for the big guys.”

Techera has de­vel­oped chem­istry with Mon­tero, a high-priced de­signed player brought in on loan from his club in China to help goal-starved Van­cou­ver, and Bolanos, who has con­trolled things from the mid­dle of the pitch since re­turn­ing from in­jury.

“Bug has al­ways had that qual­ity,” said White­caps de­fender Tim Parker. “It’s just get­ting him to get it in there day in, day out.

“He’s a lit­tle guy. He’s shifty, and he’s quick and clever. He’s tough to play against 1-on-1.”

Robin­son has needed Techera’s resur­gence, es­pe­cially with a num­ber of longterm in­juries ham­per­ing some of his other for­ward-think­ing op­tions, as Van­cou­ver (23-1) pre­pares to visit the first-place Port­land Tim­bers (4-2-1) on Satur­day.

“At­tack­ing play­ers are al­ways judged on goals and as­sists,” said Robin­son, whose team is set to play four straight on the road.


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