FRISCO, Texas – This Saturday could be a big day for FC Dallas' record signing, Alan Velasco.
After a lengthy visa process, Velasco arrived in Dallas the day after the club’s season-opening draw with Toronto FC on Feb. 26. Although he joined training immediately, the 19-year-old didn’t travel for the team’s away trip last weekend as he continued to acclimate to his new environment.
After all, this is Velasco’s first new club since he joined Independiente’s youth setup a decade ago, and the first time he’s moved away from Buenos Aires and all its familial comforts.
“I was at Independiente since I was 9 years old, so this is major step in my career,” Velasco said. “Independiente was my first club, but I am happy to be here. I am going to give my everything for the club as well as try and improve on myself.
“I am glad to finally be here. I finally got to see my teammates in person, and I am happy to be here. I can’t wait to make my debut soon for this club.”
And according to FCD coach Nico Estévez, Velasco won’t have to wait long to introduce himself to the Toyota Stadium faithful as they welcome Nashville SC on Saturday night:
“I think Alan is progressing very well. I think he needed that week to stay here and work. During this week, you can see how he has a different approach to the trainings, his connections with his teammates, his fitness, everything looks much different. He will be able to participate for sure on the weekend.”
Estévez has proved to be an effective recruiter over his career. In his previous role with the U.S. Men’s National Team, he helped convince American-born but English-raised midfielder Yunus Musah to declare for the United States. Estévez had an encore performance and sold Velasco on FC Dallas as a club and the opportunities it provided.
“When I was in Argentina, they spoke to me about the project and vision at the club and that was exciting,” Velasco revealed. “It’s great to have a coach like Nico, he spent a lot of time talking to me. It made me feel like the club wanted me and that the coaching staff saw potential in me to come to Dallas.”
Off the field, Velasco is still settling in Dallas. His family must remain in Argentina for the time being while they complete their visa process. It’s not an easy situation for anyone, let alone a teenager who doesn’t speak the predominant language. But FCD’s preexisting Argentine contingent is doing what they can: “Franco (Jara) and Facundo (Quignon) are great people,” Velasco said. “They have been helpful to me in adapting within the team. It is very good to know the club has two players like them. The rest of the team has also been helping me with adapting as quickly as possible.”
Even with his debut on the horizon, it’s still very early in Velasco’s FC Dallas career. He’s young, and – for all his obvious talent – still inexperienced at the pro level. His debut won’t define his time in MLS, of course. But it’s undeniably exciting, for FC Dallas fans and Velasco alike.
“I don’t know how I will feel the day of (my debut), but I know for sure that it will be great,” Velasco said. “It will be a good day for me and there will be great vibes from the team. The club did a lot for me to be here, I am happy to be here. I can’t wait to give my all, so we can reach our goals and objectives.
“I want to win everything possible. When I spoke to the coaching staff and to the front office, I told them about my ideas and my objectives with the club. I told them how firstly, I would like to reach the playoffs, and then try to win it all. But it is all step by step, I must be calm first. I need to be able to adapt first and be ready for my first game of the season.”