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Toronto FC sign Venezuelan winger Erickson Gallardo

Venezuelan national team player joins Toronto from Zamora FC.

Toronto FC president Bill Manning, left, new general manager Ali Curtis, center, and head coach Greg Vanney hold up a team scarf during an MLS soccer news conference introducing Curtis Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019, in Toronto. (Neil Davidson/The Canadian Press via AP)

Toronto FC have signed Venezuelan winger Erickson Gallardo on the opening day of the secondary transfer window, the club announced Tuesday. The 22-year old was signedfrom Venezuelan Primera División club, Zamora F.C. using Targeted Allocation Money.

“Erickson is a talented attacking player that will improve our team,” said Toronto FC General Manager Ali Curtis in a press release issued by the club.”

Gallardo joins Toronto FC after five years with Zamora. Making his debut in 2014, the winger was part of a side that won three championships in 2015, 2016 and 2018. Throughout that stretch, Gallardo made 91 appearances with 64 starts and scored 10 goals with 19 assists. 

“He has good character and is excited to earn the respect of his teammates, meet our great fans, and he and his wife are looking forward to settling into the city of Toronto,” Curtis said. “He has speed, can shift directions quickly and can open up the game for himself and others.”

It was that speed and ability to shift directions quickly that earned him a call-up to the Venezuelan national team this summer. The winger then featured in a friendly against Ecuador, but ultimately did not make Venezuela’s Copa America squad. 

With the Venezuelan league season currently on a break, Gallardo has not been involved in a competitive fixture since that Ecuador friendly on June 1. 

“Mid-season can sometimes be challenging to step into a new team, particularly for young, international players,” Curtis said. “With that said, we’re excited to get him going because we believe he can make an impact now, and in the future,” added Curtis.

“It was a dream of mine to come here ever since I made my debut against Ecuador,” Gallardo said at the club’s press conference Tuesday.

At home on either wing, Gallardo completed 77.6 percent of his on average 5.9 dribbles per 90 minutes and scored seven goals and nine assists in 42 games across all competitions.

“I am a player that has a lot of speed, and I am quick on attack,” Gallardo said. “I like to open up the field and like to read the game that my teammates like to play. I am looking forward to growing my game here in Toronto.”

Gallardo, however, will not be the only player to join Toronto FC Tuesday. The club signed former US national team defender Omar Gonzalez June 3 and, with the window now open, has completed his transfer from Pachuca. Both Gallardo and Gonzalez will be available when Toronto FC travel face the Impact in Montreal Saturday. 

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