Vazquez departs TFC as one of MLS' great unheralded talents

Photo of Vazquez departs TFC as one of MLS' great unheralded talents

The announcement of under-the-wall free kick . The truth is that, in 2017, the man dubbed El Mago (the Magician) was a step beyond even the more prolific and explosive Giovinco in a red shirt.

Vazquez was both the puppeteer and the liberator of the 2017 MLS Cup-winning side. Not only did he become a chief creative fulcrum for Vanney's men, but his installation in midfield also allowed Bradley to relinquish some of his playmaking responsibilities and operate purely as the midfield engine. Bradley could often be found starting moves from almost alongside center-back Drew Moor in the defensive line during the 2017 season, something which was enabled by Vazquez's brilliance.

Training alongside Vazquez for the best part of two years has also undoubtedly had a positive effect on his teammates. Jonathan Osorio blossomed last season into a genuine talent and bore more than a shade of Vazquez's style in his play, while other squad players such as Jay Chapman and Marky Delgado also improved. Not all of this is Vazquez's doing, of course, and he wouldn't take credit for it, but his influence is omnipotent.

Perhaps his displays and impact on the league were not reflected in acclaim. Despite being the club's impetus on its way to a maiden MLS Cup triumph and one of the most productive midfielders in the league, Vazquez missed out on the Newcomer of the Year award to Atlanta United's Miguel Almiron. In itself, that's nothing to be ashamed about, but Vazquez wasn't even nominated- albeit in an unusually strong field that year - having to settle for a Team of the Year berth.

A less majestic 2018 dampened some of the enthusiasm around Vazquez and, at his age, has likely lowered his ceiling in terms of form and fitness. Perhaps his exit now is sensible in the long term, particularly considering the hefty chunk of cap space that ditching his reported $1.3-million salary will free up.

Where TFC go in their bid to replace the man who was near-irreplaceable remains to be seen. For now, though, Vazquez deserves the legacy he earned - that of one of Major League Soccer's greatest-ever players, and perhaps Toronto FC's biggest-ever difference-maker.

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