The Vancouver Whitecaps had some news on Monday afternoon.
It was announced that the club did not exercise the options for several players. Those were goalkeeper Cody Cropper, defenders Florian Jungwirth, Marcus Godinho and Jake Nerwinski, midfielder Leonard Owusu and most notably, striker Lucas Cavallini. (All will leave on January 1) The Whitecaps did pick up the option for defender Derek Cornelius who is on loan with Greek side Panetolikos.
As you have read by the title of this article, we will be talking about Cavallini and will be looking back at his time in Vancouver. The left-footed Canadian international just played his third season with the Whitecaps and was the club’s leading scorer in MLS play with nine goals and is now a free agent but eligible for the MLS Re-Entry draft.
It also looks like Vancouver did not want to pay him a huge amount of money for him next season.
Cavallini is also the Whitecaps’ most expensive signing at around six million dollars USD from Liga MX side Puebla. He signed in December 2019, just a few weeks before his 27th birthday to a lot of fanfare. There was a tank outside BC Place that had the number nine on it to announce Cavallini’s arrival. His nickname is “El Tanque.” after all.
There was a lot to like about the signing and Whitecaps fans were excited. That was mainly because Cavallini knew how to score goals and they wanted to see lots from “El Tanque.”
“The team has brought me here for a reason and I have to do what I love to do, which is score goals and give the fans a lot to cheer about,” said Cavallini in the press release when he was officially announced as a Whitecaps player.
Fans also hoped he would find chemistry with the other designated players, midfielder Hwang In-Beom and left-back Ali Adnan.
But it was a rough start for Cavallini in Vancouver. His first season in MLS was put to a halt after just two games as with all other professional sports leagues due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. That gave the team challenges as they played games in Orlando, Portland and Salt Lake City in 2020 and half of 2021. (They did play a few games at an empty BC Place in late 2020 against CF Montreal and Toronto FC.) Cavallini himself struggled.
We never got to see him play with Adnan and In-Beom as the latter left for Russia in the summer of 2020. (Adnan left the club due to Visa issues a year later.) Cavallini struggled with the build-up play and it didn’t help he didn’t get service from a true number 10. But we saw flashes late in the year when Fredy Montero played in front of him. Cavallini finished the year with six goals.
Things didn’t improve for him in 2021. Cavallini continued to struggle as he scored only three goals in MLS that season. He looked very slow on the build-up play, wasn’t using his strength and was never in the right spot for scoring chances or was creating any himself. There was also a knee injury which he dealt with in the middle of the season.
Oh yeah, that no. 10 did arrive and his name was Ryan Gauld. He was a game-changer but he found chemistry with Brian White, another striker and newcomer as the Whitecaps made the postseason for the first time since 2017. It looked like Cavallini wasn’t the main man up front anymore with White scoring.
But 2022 was definitely El Tanque’s best season. As mentioned he scored nine goals in MLS play and helped the Whitecaps win the Canadian Championship. Cavallini looked very engaged and was using his poaching ability to get scoring chances.
However, there was one thing Cavallini was known for in his time with the Whitecaps, and that was the yellow cards. In fact, he had 23 yellow cards in all competitions plus two red cards. In terms of goals, he leaves Vancouver with 18 in three seasons.
Many of those yellow cards were avoidable. There were instances where Cavallini got booked for arguing with the referee or kicking the ball after getting a foul. Some were soft sure, but he got yellows for letting his emotions get the better of him. He would get yellows seconds after coming on as a substitute and Whitecaps Twitter had a Cavallini yellow card on their game bingo cards.
Perhaps no booking was worse than on August 27, 2022, against Nashville SC when he stepped on Alex Muyl’s head as a sign of frustration due to his team being down 3-0.
It was a really stupid challenge and Cavallini was suspended for four games.
What is Cavallini’s Whitecaps legacy? Was he a disappointment?
So how will Cavallini be remembered as a Whitecap?
Unfortunately, he won’t be remembered for scoring goals. Perhaps his most memorable was a last-minute goal against the Houston Dynamo on August 5, 2022, at BC Place.
What Cavallini will be remembered for is his lack of self-control and getting booked. There were so many unnecessary challenges and his temper got the better of him.
As for his actual play on the pitch, 2022 was his best year but he wasn’t great. What Whitecaps fans will remember about Cavallini is a player who showed flashes but disappeared for long stretches, wasn’t threatening at times and was hot-headed.
Was Cavallini a disappointing signing? Given the hype and the fact he was their most expensive signing, I would say so. Cavallini’s three seasons in Vancouver aren’t DP quality. He did score goals but it obviously wasn’t enough. It seems the club has had enough of his antics and wants to move in a different direction
I think Mexico or South America would be best for Cavallini. Maybe even a league in Europe such as the English Championship or LaLiga2 in Spain. It is a shame that he signed for the Whitecaps with so much fanfare but was a player who sometimes scored and mostly got yellow cards.
For the Whitecaps, a new DP spot is open and it is very likely they are going to use that on a striker. Whoever it is, he better be someone who can find the back of the net consistently and has pace.