By Jose M. Romero / @RomeroJoseM
For Fox Deportes
Those who ever wondered about Camilo Sanvezzo’s importance to the Vancouver Whitecaps’ attack should consider a few things.
One, the forward is the set-piece guy for the Major League Soccer club, and he’s pretty good at free kicks and corner kicks.
Two, Camilo was Vancouver’s leading scorer in the club’s inaugural season, 2011, with 13 goals in all competitions.
Three, just look at the 2012 numbers. The Brazilian is tied for the team lead in goals with three this season, to go along with a pair of assists. And when he starts a league match, the Whitecaps are undefeated at 4-0-2.
Imagine where the ‘Caps might be if not for a quadriceps injury that kept Camilo out of three games, and he’s come off the bench in three others.
There are a number of reasons the Whitecaps look like a much more competitive team than last season, when they finished 6-18-10 and failed to win a match on the road (they’ve won twice away in 2012). Camilo, a seasoned veteran at the young age of 23, is one of them.
He’s the table-setter for a group of talented attacking players, including powerful striker Eric Hassli, smooth forward Sebastien Le Toux, rookie speedster Darren Mattocks and second-year prospect Omar Salgado, that has the Whitecaps in better position to contend for the league playoffs.
A world traveler who enjoys seeing new places and being part of other cultures, Camilo has played in his native land plus South Korea and Malta. He said he is having fun in his second season in lovely Vancouver.
“It’s good there. The style of play in Vancouver, the devoted fan base, and I feel pretty good. I feel like I’m in Brazil. I feel at home,” Camilo said, both he and I finding common ground in Spanish while conversing before a recent game. “We love football in Brazil, and even though in Vancouver there are other sports like hockey, all of our games have like 25,000 fans in the stadium. It feels great.”
Camilo has found MLS play to his liking. The league is full of physical players; Camilo’s not big, at 5-foot-7 and listed at 155 pounds, but he’s stocky and quick to the ball and isn’t afraid to mix it up.
“I like the quality. It’s a strong man’s league with a lot of strong players,” Camilo said. “The fields are a little smaller sometimes and play faster. The skill is a better in Brazil, but here you have to combine skill with physicality to succeed on the field of play.”
Camilo said he improved as a player last season when he figured out where his teammates were and how to get them the ball to improve the team’s scoring chances.
Asked why the Whitecaps are a better team this season, he offered his opinion. One key is the new coaching staff under first-year manager Martin Rennie.
“The coaches understand all the players and believe in them,” Camilo said. “Practices are hard but good. We have more scorers, and I hope we can score more with the quality of players we have.”