ALSO ON SLAM!
Thursday, May 18, 2000
Colombian striker boosts Toronto offenceTORONTO (CP) -- Juan Pablo Arango misses Colombian food and is mystified by Canadian weather. But on the plus side, the Toronto Lynx striker has taken to hockey and has already demonstrated a scoring touch on the soccer field.
Arango is one of GM-coach Peter Pinizzotto's foreign legion on the A-League team. The Colombian plays up front with Brazilian Francisco Dos Santos. Argentine Mauricio Vincello and Mexican Ricardo Mungia play defence.
Arango, 28, comes from Cali, Colombia, where he had been playing for a second division side but ended up in Toronto because the Lynx, which scored just 31 times in 28 games last season, needed goals.
The Lynx heard about Arango from a Peruvian-born agent and journalist with Toronto ties.
"He mentioned that Arango had been a goalscorer everywhere he's gone. He's always scored goals," Pinizzotto said.
Arango, who had previously played in China, looked forward to a chance to see another part of the world.
"It's another experience for me, outside the country," Arango said Thursday through an interpreter.
It's all been new to the smiling Colombian, who is sharing digs provided by the club with Vincello.
"The weather is crazy," he said. "One day it's hot, one day it's cold."
Strangely enough, Arango says there seems to be security in Canadian soccer, noting that at least he gets paid on time here -- unlike Colombia.
But he dismisses the stereotype that Cali is a dangerous den of inequity.
"Where I live is a nice place, it's not that dangerous," said Arango, who plans to return to Colombia when the A-League season ends in the fall. "It's outside the city where they used to do those dangerous things."
Pinizzotto says South American players actually come cheaper than some Canadians, because there is no shortage of South Americans looking to play soccer.
The city is also a draw.
"They love the place. It's easy to adjust to Toronto because of the ethnic group here. People who come and play here, usually enjoy staying here."
Arango, 5-10 and 169 pounds, scored in his second game with the Lynx, helping the team to a win over perennial powerhouse Rochester.
"He might not score a lot of spectacular goals but he is one of those guys who has a nose for the net," said Pinizzotto.
The Toronto coach speaks a bit of Italian but no Spanish and acknowledges that the language barrier can become frustrating in practice.
"The bottom line is once you go on the field, everybody speaks the same language," he said.