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Wanderers sign enterprising young Canadian defender Mateo Restrepo

The Wanderers have made another squad move bringing more energy and depth to the team’s defence by securing the signature of up-and-coming Canadian full-back Mateo Restrepo.

The 22-year-old has represented Canada at both U 17 and U 18 levels and is joining the Wanderers after a strong season with the University of California’s Santa Barbara Gauchos in the NCAA.

The right full-back was born in La Ceja, Colombia and grew up in Toronto where he went on to play for the academy of Toronto FC and then TFC II.

“I’m excited because I’ve watched a few Wanderers games and I saw the Wanderers have by far the best atmosphere,” Restrepo explained from California. “It seems like the entire community is behind the team and I think that’s great and it attracted me to the team.”

Mateo Restrepo in action for the University of California Santa Barbara Gauchos. Photo: Felipe Garcia.
Mateo Restrepo in action for the University of California Santa Barbara Gauchos. Photo: Felipe Garcia.

Restrepo is another bright prospect Wanderers head coach Stephen Hart has followed since his breakthrough into the national team’s youth set up.

“He’s clean on the ball and technically sound. He can also get up and down the line so I’m happy to have him,” Hart said, adding the player is being signed to a multi-year contract.

Like the club’s last signing, Daniel Kinumbe, he is another young full-back who likes to get forward and get crosses into the box, giving Stephen Hart increased attacking options from the defence.

For a young player, Restrepo already has quite a resume, including a spell in Germany where he was a part of FC Ingolstadt 04 in the U 19 Bundesliga.

‘I like to contribute to the attack’

He made his pro debut for TFC II in the USL against FC Montreal in 2015 prior to his college career.

Following a season in Germany, the defender decided to continue his schooling, choosing the University of California where he made more than 60 appearances for Santa Barbara’s Gauchos team.

He quickly became a leader on the Gauchos team and was named one of the team’s captains this past season.

“I think my game has developed and especially when I went to Germany their full backs are basically midfielders, so you are bombing up and down and that was a big emphasis, so I like to contribute to the attack,” Restrepo said.

Restrepo leading out the Gauchos as captain. Photo: Felipe Garcia.
Restrepo leading out the Gauchos as captain. Photo: Felipe Garcia.

He will join up with the Wanderers for the beginning of the team’s training camp in March.

“There are no guarantees and like every other player he will have to fight for his place but he is coming off a good season and has earned his opportunity,” Hart said.

Restrepo becomes the fourteenth confirmed member of Stephen Hart’s 2020 Wanderers squad.

Restrepo describes himself as a defender who likes to get up and down the line and get crosses in. Photo: Felipe Garcia.
Restrepo describes himself as a defender who likes to get up and down the line and get crosses in. Photo: Felipe Garcia.

“I’m really happy with how the squad is beginning to take shape,” Hart said. “We have options now in defence, midfield and attack and a nice balance in most positions so I feel like we are in a good position.”

Stay tuned next week for news of another signing that will excite the fans as we continue to build towards our second Canadian Premier League season.

Come on you Wanderers!