Agustín Ojeda | From La Tablada to the Bronx

Ojeda Edit

After New York City FC announced the transfer of Agustín Ojeda, we asked South American football expert Tom Robinson for the lowdown on our wing wizard.

From the way he accelerates down the wing to the trajectory of his career, everything related to Agustín Ojeda happens at a breakneck pace.

But to put Ojeda’s rapid rise to prominence down to speed alone would be to oversimplify both his style of play and the journey he’s been on so far.

Humble Beginnings

When mentioning the name of the footballing hotbed of Rosario, the mind immediately jumps to Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria, and Gabriel Batistuta.

But Argentina’s third-largest city has a darker side. Drug-related violence saw Rosario record 259 homicides last year - 22 per 100,000 inhabitants and about five times the national average.

Amidst this turbulent backdrop, Ojeda grew up in the neighborhood of La Tablada, one of the city’s more troubled barrios even by Rosario’s standards, before he was spotted at the age 11 and brought to Racing Club in Buenos Aires by the same scout who had previously identified World Cup and La Liga winner Angel Correa.

La Academia

Known as ‘the Academy’, Racing has an excellent track record in producing young players. Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez, Atlético Madrid’s Rodrigo de Paul and Juventus loanee Carlos Alcaraz are just a few recent graduates from Racing’s Predio Tita Mattiussi.

Ojeda quickly impressed upon arrival and earned the affectionate moniker ‘Trapito’ (Little Rag) due to his short stature and waif-like physique. Despite starting as more of an enganche - the Argentinian name for a playmaker, literally translated as ‘hook’ - he found his explosive pace better suited to the wing.

A regular for Argentina at underage level, Trapito also became the first Racing player to progress through every single youth division before making his first team debut at the age of 17 in March 2022. The sky seemed to be the limit at this early stage in his nascent career.

2023: A Breakthrough Year

Ojeda quickly made up for missed opportunities and made an immediate impact once back in the first team fold.

In just his third start for Racing, Trapito truly announced himself by scoring a crucial goal in the Copa Libertadores Round of 16 second leg against Atletico Nacional to swing the tie back in the Argentinians’ favor.

Demonstrating all of his pace, directness, and eye for goal, he motored down the right wing, into the box and fired a low drive into the corner of the net. Racing went on to win 3-0, overturning their 4-2 defeat from the first leg, to set up a quarter-final clash against the mighty Boca Juniors.

Ojeda impressed in the league in the second half of the year too, with 2 goals and 2 assists in 16 appearances. While the numbers might not immediately jump off the page, the fact he did so in only 844 minutes of football gives him a very respectable goal involvement of 0.43 per 90, especially given it was his first experience of senior football.

Six months of Primera Division football was enough to prove his worth and Ojeda swapped Avellaneda for New York, ready to inject some dynamism into the Boys in Blue.

The Next Maxi Moralez?

So what can NYCFC fans expect from Ojeda? A true winger with pace to burn, Ojeda can operate wide on either flank, equally capable of getting chalk on his boots or drifting into the half spaces.

A rapid burst of acceleration, low centre of gravity, and excellent agility makes_ Trapito_ a full back’s nightmare and he thrives in 1v1 situations. Speak to any of his former coaches and words like ‘slippery’, ‘impudent’ and ‘daring’ come up frequently.

The numbers back it up too. According to Wyscout data, Ojeda averaged 3.41 progressive runs and 5.23 dribbles per 90, while also registering 3.52 touches in the penalty area per game. FBRef ranks him in the 96th percentile for successful take-ons and the 98th for fouls drawn.

As such he has seen comparisons drawn to ex-Inter Milan forward Rodrigo Palacio, as well as fellow rosarino Angel Correa.

Another attribute that stands out is his persistence. Dogged and unrelenting, Ojeda chases seemingly lost causes and never gives up. This characteristic also means he is adept at pressing from the front, as demonstrated by his average of 2.03 recoveries in the final third per 90 last year.

Ojeda is a reserved and quiet character off it. With a strong family unit and an ease in forming relationships, he has demonstrated in his short career a desire to consistently improve, as well as showing fortitude in the face of challenges and setbacks.

While Ojeda’s lack of stature impacts his aerial ability, the likes of Lautaro Acosta, Thiago Almada, and, perhaps most relevantly, Maxi Moralez have all shown that height is no barrier when it comes to diminutive Argentinians succeeding in MLS.

With his blend of pace, close control, and never-say-die attitude, Ojeda could be the perfect tonic for a youthful City set up looking to rediscover their best form.