TORONTO – The Reds confirmed Tuesday they’ve signed Auro Alvaro da Cruz Junior on loan.
“Auro,” a Brazilian fullback currently on the books at Sao Paulo, started and played 75 minutes in Toronto FC’s 4-1 exhibition win over Cruz Azul Tuesday in Mexico City.
The 21-year-old Brazilian youth international comes with an option-to-purchase clause.
“He’s very dynamic,” coach Greg Vanney told the Toronto Sun. “He also can play right wing.”
Auro arrives two weeks after ex-Dutch international Gregory van der Wiel was brought in to replace departing free agent Steven Beitashour, who has since joined Los Angeles FC.
“He’s flying up and down the sideline,” Vanney said of Auro. “He’s very technical with a wonderful ability with his feet. His precision on crosses is impressive. It gives us another option.”
Standing 5-foot-6 – a fraction taller than Sebastian Giovinco – Auro is “Dani Alves-like,” Vanney explained to the Sun, a player who constantly bombs forward in transition after initiating attacks.
Vanney hasn’t ruled out playing Auro as a winger, in front of van der Wiel, in a 4-4-2- or 4-3-3.
Auro has been on Toronto FC’s radar for more than a year. Conversations between the Reds and Sao Paulo picked up before the holidays when the club determined it wanted to move Nicolas Hasler into his preferred midfield position after the Lichtenstein international spent much of 2017 in reserve to Beitashour.
“What it allows us to do also is push Nico Hasler into midfield, his natural position,” Vanney said of TFC’s utility man.
“We’ve asked him to play right back … but as we’ve seen with the (Lichtenstein) national team and everywhere else he’s a central midfielder by trade. He’s most comfortable there.”
Hasler is expected to push Marky Delgado and Jonathan Osorio for minutes in a suddenly crowded central midfield that also includes promising Homegrown prospect Liam Fraser.
Both Fraser and Hasler will be leaned on to fill the void left by Benoit Cheyrou and Armando Cooper.
The Reds see Auro as a possible long-term solution following van der Wiel’s BMO Field stay.
“We’re trying to build as much depth into each position as we can,” Vanney said. “This year we wanted to develop our right side a little bit more. We tended to be a little more left-sided last year. We want to have two deep at these positions or the ability to adapt in different ways.”
After entering pre-season without an out-and-out right fullback, Toronto FC might have unearthed two of the top, most versatile right-sided players in the Eastern Conference.
“It’s a position in this league where teams don’t spend a lot of money,” Vanney said. “But we rely so heavily on our outside backs that, for us, it makes a lot of sense.”
Tossing Auro into his starting lineup Tuesday could signal Vanney’s concern over Gregory van der Wiel’s availability for Tuesday’s CONCACAF Champions League opener.
The Dutchman departed Mexico earlier this week to sort out living arrangements with his partner, model Rose Bertram, who is in Toronto and set to give birth at any time.
Toronto FC returns to Toronto Wednesday night and will charter to Colorado four days later.
The Reds open Champions League play Tuesday night in the Mile High City before hosting the return leg at BMO Field a week later.
Temperatures in Denver could plummet as low as -6 C during the opening leg.
Of equal concern are field conditions in Toronto, where blankets of snow have wreaked havoc on BMO Field, a venue that has never hosted a Toronto FC match in February.
Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies