'I needed to change my attitude': Whitecaps' Hurtado making most of 2nd chance | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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'I needed to change my attitude': Whitecaps' Hurtado making most of 2nd chance

Vancouver Whitecaps' Erik Hurtado scores against Toronto FC during the first half of a Canadian Championship soccer game in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday May 14, 2014. After falling out of favour with Vancouver early last season, the Whitecaps loaned the forward to a tiny Norwegian club in hopes of getting him game action and, perhaps more importantly, some perspective. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
May 18, 2016 - 3:42 PM

VANCOUVER - Getting shipped off to Europe did Erik Hurtado a world of good.

After falling out of favour with Vancouver early last season, the Whitecaps loaned the forward to a tiny Norwegian club in hopes of getting him game action and, perhaps more importantly, some perspective.

Now back in Major League Soccer, the 25-year-old seems like a new man.

"I needed to change my attitude," Hurtado said after Whitecaps' practice on Wednesday. "I needed to go out there and think about putting the team first. If I don't get into the (starting) lineup, that's OK. I can come off the bench and make an impact.

"That's what I need to do to help the team."

The fifth pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, Hurtado scored all six of his MLS goals for Vancouver during the 2014 season, with four coming in one four-game stretch. He started 19 times in the regular season and again in the Whitecaps' 2-1 playoff loss to FC Dallas, scoring the club's goal.

But something was different in 2015. Hurtado made just nine appearances, including a single start, before the Whitecaps decided it was time to send the native of Beaverton, Ore., packing.

The move turned out to be the wake-up called Hurtado needed.

"I just wanted to make myself the best player that I could — put my head down and work and whatever happened, happened," he said. "If it was to stay over there (in Norway), then it was to stay over there. If it was to come back here and help the team over here, then that's what it was."

He ended up scoring one goal in 12 appearances, including seven starts, in all competitions for Mjondalen IF, located in a town about 50 kilometres west of Oslo.

"What helped was me maturing a lot in Norway, going over there and seeing what it's like compared to what it's like over here and how good we have it," said Hurtado. "It's different. The (town) that I went to was very small, population of maybe 12,000.

"Great community ... but not MLS."

Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson, who pulled the trigger on the loan deal, has been happy with the player he got back on a number of levels.

"He lost a little bit of weight, he gained a little bit of power, his mind was free," said Robinson. "He obviously made the right choices in certain aspects of his life."

Teammates have also noticed a change, including striker Kekuta Manneh, the player taken one spot ahead of Hurtado in the 2013 draft.

"The mentality he's got since he's been back (is different)," said Manneh. "I've seen a big improvement."

Hurtado provided a spark off the bench in five of Vancouver's first 12 games this season before getting handed his first MLS start since March 28, 2015, in Saturday's electric 4-3 win at Toronto FC.

Hurtado and Manneh ran wild on a leaky Toronto defence, with the latter picking up two goals and an assist on the way to being voted MLS player of the week.

"It was awesome," said Hurtado, who could be in line for another start on Sunday against his hometown Portland Timbers. "We just felt comfortable out there."

And with Blas Perez set to join Panama for the Copa America next month and fellow striker Masato Kudo out with a broken jaw, the Whitecaps are going to need even more from Hurtado as he continues to make the most of his second chance.

"He's earned his way back into the squad," said Robinson. "When he's come on he's made a difference."

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News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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