Jose Aja didn’t always understand that a good defence means running his mouth more than his legs.
The Vancouver Whitecaps defender was in Nelson on Thursday to speak with young players at the club’s annual skills camp at Lakeside Park.
The Montevideo, Uruguay native, who has one goal in 14 appearances this season, said young defenders should prioritize their communication skills.
“For me, as a centre back … you can see the whole game from the back (and) organize your teammates. That’s a very important thing.”
That’s a lesson Aja only learned five or six years ago. The 25 year old said slowing down helped him become a better player.
“When you are young you want to run and be everywhere, but when I used to play with some experienced guys who teach me how to be in a good position, I start to understand more of the game.”
Vancouver acquired Aja in February from Orlando City. He’s the fifth Whitecap to visit Nelson, with past players including Erik Hurtado, Jay DeMerit, Tim Parker and Marco Bustos.
He spoke to the Star one day before Uruguay faced, and ultimately lost, to France in the quarter-finals at the World Cup. His focus will now have to be on getting the Whitecaps into the post-season.
“We are starting to be good now,” he said. “We started in the beginning not so well. Now we are in good position, sixth position. Hopefully we make the playoffs.”