Reports out of South America indicate that the Oakland Roots are set to sign Venezuelan winger Juan Carlos Azócar, according to Mario Alberto Sanchez of El Mundo es un Balón.
Sources confirm that the club is interested in Azócar and it appears to be a matter of time before the paperwork is finalized. Alberto Sanchez was spot-on with Edgardo Rito’s signing, so there’s little doubting a deal will be official in the near future.
This results in the team’s eighth international signing and third Venezuelan national to be added by new head coach and fellow countryman Juan Guerra. Oakland has one remaining international roster slot left, the full list includes:
- Juan Carlos Azócar
- Joseph Nane
- Edgardo Rito
- Matias Fissore
- Lindo Mfeka
- Jose Hernandez
- Alejandro Fuenmayor
- Dariusz Formella
Azócar adds a necessary forward to the roster with experience in the USL Championship after spending 2020-2021 with RGV Toros. According to Transfermarkt, he carries a market value of $220,000 with a primary position of right winger while left winger and right back are secondary options.
Azócar seems to be another player with some position-variability given FotMob lists him at right back, right mid, and right winger, while John Morrissey’s USL 2022 Roster Hub shows him as a center mid.
Morrissey’s Roster Hub shows some in-depth soccer analytics which certainly favors Azócar, including an expected goals rating of 0.9 (a perfect score is 1.0) and 0.41 for expected assists.
With the Roots’ supreme need for forwards, we can only assume that Azócar will play higher up the field. His highlights show that he’s poised in the penalty area, has quick instincts, and plays well in traffic, including these two impressive clips below.
At 40 seconds, Azócar makes a slick run in behind the defense and then cuts back to unload with his right foot for the goal. In the following clip, he gets on his bike in traffic for a stunning goal against San Antonio.
His entire highlight reel shows solid work getting around tight defenders and releasing well-timed passes. Oakland’s attack lacked service out of his spot last season.
The clip above highlights his ability tracking back as a defender. Here, we see Azócar press an El Paso forward’s first touch, steal possession, dribble by a first defender, gets past a hard tackle to play the advantage before sending a beauty right-footed pass through the defense for the goal and assist.
The ability to have players who can turn defense into offense was something the club strived for under technical director Jordan Ferrell last season. Azócar provides a similar, yet differing skill-set to the recently signed Edgardo Rito–who is a natural right back who tends to go forward.
Azócar, 26, started his career with Aragua of Venezuela’s Primera División, making 45 appearances and four goals from 2011-2013. Azócar then joined Deportivo Táchira F.C., appearing in 64 matches from 2013-2016 and scored five goals, while he also made 13 appearances on loan with Carabobo.
He signed on with the Primera División’s Deportivo La Guaira in 2017 and made 74 caps until going on loan to FC Urartu of the Armenian Premier League in 2019. From there, he went on loan from Deportivo to RGV Toros near the end of the 2020 season in August. His loan included an option to buy for RGV, which evidently was not exercised.
In 2021, Azócar made 27 appearances with RGV Toros to score six goals and three assists, carrying an average rating of 7.0 in 17 starts.