After the Vancouver Whitecaps latest signing, Lucas Cavallini, we take a look at how he stacks up compared to some other Whitecaps strikers, to get an idea of what he can bring to MLS.
Lucas Cavallini is going to be the next striker for the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The Canadian forward, nicknamed “El Tanque”, joins a group of strikers who have historically not been spectacular. The Whitecaps have had only one striker who truly lit MLS alight through their eight seasons of league action, and that was Camilo Sanvezzo, who left the club in disastrous fashion after the 2013 season.
With the latest institution to the strikeforce of the Vancouver club, Between the Sticks takes a look at the top three strikers in the team’s MLS tenure, and how Cavallini could be poised to surpass all of them.
3. Eric Hassli
The man who put the Whitecaps on the social media map with his wonder-goals vs the Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC (below) was a strong striker, but not one who was able to take control of the game from many aspects. He never put up big numbers offensively, with his best season still below double-digits, but his charisma and the fear he imposed on the defending backline were unparalleled.
His attitude is very similar to that of Cavallini. He’s stylish, he’s hardworking and is smart when it comes to football, however, Cavallini has one thing upon the Frenchmen: skill. While the soccer IQ was there for Hassli, his skill was not up to the task and would certainly lack far behind the current iteration of Major League Soccer.
Looking at Hassli’s goal above, it is much like a lot of his, many of them are from the volley or on balls that are unsettled. This is not the case for Cavallini, who likes to play the ball from the ground. Although the two players differ in this area, neither one of them shies away from taking a long-range shot. Yes, Hassli’s Seattle wonder was an anomaly and was more precision than it was power, but Cavallini could execute a similar goal in a more aesthetically pleasing fashion.
It won’t take much for “El Tanque” to surpass Hassli on the list of all-time Whitecaps strikers, but to do so he will have to score more goals and instill more fear than the Frenchman ever did.
2. Kei Kamara
He was only here for one year, an unsuccessful one for the club at that, but boy, did he make a statement on the pitch and in the hearts of the club’s supporters. His style was based on his size, but not the same imposing physicality that Cavallini has in store. He was no tank, but he was a force. If one were to look for a militaristic term to describe the flying striker, it would have to be something related to a plane. The pilot maybe? Anyways, nicknames are not the point of this piece.
Kamara scored the majority of the goals with his head and was not exceptional with his feet. Many times he would lose the ball in his feet due to his height and less than the superior centre of gravity, but when the ball was in the air- it was all he could ever ask for.
He is still one of the tallest strikers in the league, and he found a lot of success under the tactics of former head coach Carl Robinson. The tactics at that time were simplistic and easy to defend, part of the reason he eventually was shown the door, but they did suit Kamara for a short period of time.
Long balls into the 18 yard-box and seemingly endless supplies of crosses gave Kamara all of the aerial opportunities he could ask for. This is not something that will suit Cavallini, but that’s not to say that he is not good in the air. The Canadians heading technique is on par with Kamara, although, given his smaller stature, it is less of a definining facet of his game.
Kamara’s 14 regular-season goals with the Whitecaps will be the minimum that Cavallini will have to score to somewhat please fans of the Vancovuer whitecaps. Seeing as the ‘Caps spent over 10 million dollars on the Canadian striker (fee+salary), that’s enough to say that they expect more than the 14 that they got from an ageing MLS journeyman.
1. Camilo Sanvezzo
You always knew that it was going to be him at number one. He is still the all-time leading goalscorer for the club, and the type of player the team has been trying to find a long-term replacement for since his notorious departure.
With Cavallini, it looks like the Whitecaps have finally found that guy, six years after the Brazillian left the country. Camilo and Cavallini have so many parallels in their play, that it is strange that the Whitecaps have not gone after a player like him before.
The closest player to fit this mould that has been tried would be Uruguayan Octavio Rivero, who failed to settle in MLS coming from the Chilean leagues. With any luck, the Cavallini experiment will have a much better outcome than Rivero did.
How are Camilo and Cavallini similar? Well, both of their names (that they were referred by) start with “CA.” Boom! All done! “Lucas Cavallini Whitecaps FC Legend.”
OK, maybe not just that. However, there are some very legitimate parallels between the two strikers.
- They’re both good on the ground
Both players are very comfortable having the ball at their feet and will keep it very close to their legs when on the dribble. There were multiple times where Camilo would circle around goalkeeper in his time with the Whitecaps, and this is something that Cavallini is poised to do as well.
- Similar stature.
Both players are of a very similar height, with Cavallini being only five centimetres taller. This is another contributing factor as to why they share such similar playing styles.
- Controlled volleys
Each of the players is able to control the ball when it is bouncing around. Cavallini’s goal below comes from a pass that he assumed was coming but likely did not see and he was still able to put himself in a position where he could fire it into the back of the net. For Camilo, he did not score many like this, but the control which he had from balls in the air was one of the best in the league at the time.
The expectations on the new striker are bigger than any Whitecaps player has ever been faced with, but coming from a strong Liga MX and a successful few seasons at Puebla, he is primed to take MLS by storm. The American division continues to be considered inferior to their southern cousins, however, the success of Cavallini in MLS versus his Liga MX success will add another talking point to the never-ending debate.