This offseason, the ‘Caps made a splash when they signed Colombian winger Cristian Dajome. Recently, as the ‘Caps inch towards an MLS return, Sebastian Pereira had the chance to interview the newcomer. Here is his exclusive interview.
After a busy season, he had a big decision to make.
Upon being freshly named a Copa Sudamericana champion with Ecuadorian side Independiente Del Valle, 26-year-old winger Cristian Dajome wasn’t sure where he’d ply his trade next.
His loan with Independiente expired in December and his parent club, Bogota FC, were keen to take advantage of his recent rise in value.
This opened the doors for Dajome to start searching for the next stop in his career.
“I had a lot of options on the table, I had an offer from Mexico, from Brazil, as well”, explained Dajome in an exclusive interview with BTS, “The interest from the Whitecaps came towards the end of December and they made the official offer [to Independiente] around early January.”
Having played a major part of Independiente’s Copa victory with four goals and 2 assists, the ‘Caps faced fierce competition from Corinthians [Brazil] and Pumas [Mexico] for Dajome’s signature.
The winger had previously followed Major League Soccer prior to his move to Vancouver, with its growth in recent years being a big motivation for him to embark on a new challenge at this point in his career.
Dajome reached out to fellow Colombians, Michael Barrios and Santiago Mosquera from FC Dallas, both of whom he had previously played against in the Colombian first division, in order to help make his decision.
“They said it’s a very competitive league, so they encouraged me to give it my all every year as I had been doing throughout my career and that would help me cement my place in the club”, said Dajome.
The key deciding factors for the Colombian, however, were the economic situations of each country and the conversations with each head coach.
“I was deciding between Brazil or coming here to Canada. In the end, we were able to reach an agreement [with the Whitecaps]”, said Dajome.
As he’s done with numerous Whitecaps signings in the past, head coach Marc Dos Santos played a big part in convincing Dajome to make the move to Vancouver, with the speedy winger highlighting how supportive he was during negotiations.
“I liked the way he directed himself towards me, his ways of thinking how to play the game, it’s kind of similar to the way we played at Independiente so I liked the idea”, explained the former Atletico Nacional man, “I think around three or four times he texted me asking me how the negotiations were going and if everything was ready for me to fly to Vancouver, he was asking about my family too, those were things at the end that made me really grateful.”
Upon arriving in Vancouver, Dajome says the club welcomed him very well and thoroughly enjoyed the pre-season tournament down in Portland shortly after his arrival.
“I felt very good, very calm, Marc told me he really liked what he saw in those games, he said I looked more like the Cristian he had seen in the videos”, explained Dajome,”I’d say around the New England game I was beginning to really settle into the rhythm followed by the Minnesota game where I also felt very good.”
Once it came to the regular season, the Colombian felt super calm playing his game, adding he believes the games against Sporting KC and LA Galaxy showed the type of player he is on the attack.
He admitted he was also fairly surprised to see how much love the fans in Vancouver have for football and the amount of support the team received in the season opener at BC Place.
“It was a beautiful experience. To be honest, I didn’t expect them to come in such numbers, I’m very grateful to them, to be able to feel the love from the fans was very special, even though we lost”, said Dajome,”I feel like the game was decided because of our errors more than their quality but we learned lessons from that, worked hard to get better and in the end, we got a massive victory in LA that left quite a lot of people surprised.”
As for settling into the city, it’s a whole new adventure for Dajome which includes a new country, a new language and a new culture.
But without his wife and daughters, who haven’t been able to move to Vancouver due to the unfortunate circumstances of COVID-19, the adventure hasn’t been as smooth as Dajome would’ve liked.
However, his compatriot, Fredy Montero, has played a major role in making the transition a lot easier.
“I’m very grateful, Fredy’s a great person, his family, his wife, his daughters, his aunt as well. The truth is I feel very cozy, they’ve been very welcoming, I feel like I’m part of the family, I feel like I’m with my wife and my daughters so it’s very nice, very nice to have people from Colombia here”, said Dajome.
From playing with Montero’s daughters to eating delicious meals cooked by Montero’s wife Alexis, it has all helped Dajome adapt quicker to life in the Rain City and build a stronger connection with the veteran striker.
“Sometimes you don’t expect to have a person or people so close to you to help you out with things that are important so that for sure has made me super happy, I’m glad. Since my family isn’t here, I feel lonely sometimes but as time goes by I’ve managed it slowly and they [Fredy’s family] have been a big part of that.”
Having adjusted to his new city, Dajome is focusing on the path ahead and the goals he hopes to achieve during his time in Vancouver.
“I want to win trophies, be able to bring history to this club and enjoy the opportunity of being here”, explained Dajome,”I don’t know how long I’ll be here for, could be a long time or maybe even a short time who knows but no matter what, the goal will always be to make history and win lots of trophies.”
Dajome will get his chance to make history with the ‘Caps next month, when the Blue and White travel to Orlando, Florida to compete in the #MLSisBack Tournament against Western Conference advisaries Seattle Sounders, FC Dallas and San Jose Earthquakes.
This article was run in collaboration with B&G Media. Check out their twitter (@b_and_gmedia) and Instagram (@bg.media) for more content related to this interview, and stay tuned for more!