Camilo named Whitecaps player of the year

VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Vancouver Whitecaps didn’t call the media in for a “major club announcement” when they signed Camilo Sanvezzo earlier in March, but it turned out to be the club’s shrewdest bit of business.

Camilo’s majestic finishing throughout the season earned him three Goal of the Week nominations, his most recent coming in late August as he spun his marker expertly before curling in a consolation goal in a 2-1 Whitecaps loss to the Portland Timbers.

The fans in Vancouver rewarded the Brazilian for his consistency and brilliance by voting him as Whitecaps Player of the Year.

“I’m a little bit happy about this, but we need to work hard for next year to make things better,” Camilo told MLSsoccer.com after Saturday’s season finale. “Every game the fans helped us, and this is not good for our fans because when we played here we lost too many games.”

While Eric Hassli experienced a late-season scoring drought and Mustapha Jarju went scoreless since arriving, Camilo found the back of the net regularly, and without the Designated Player price tag. The award was a well-deserved honor, as the 23 year old did it at home and on the road, leapfrogging Hassli late on to finish the season as Vancouver’s top scorer.

While coaches and management regularly referenced the bedding-in period needed for foreign players to adjust, Camilo’s first MLS season could have been a veteran’s, as he scored five of his 12 goals on the road and never seemed to give anything less than his all.

Talented teammates like Davide Chiumiento experienced ups and downs, and expressed frustration at being asked to play in new positions, but Camilo did whatever was asked of him, often playing as a left winger following Tom Soehn’s move from the front office down to the touchline.

“We know what his best position is, and through the course of this season, due to injuries or whatever we’ve had to move him around,” Soehn said. “What he went through this year as far as changing positions has only made him better, because he understands the responsibilities of different spots and also understands that when he’s doing a good job up top, forcing [opponents] to play one way, it makes the job for the guy behind him easier.”

Captain Jay DeMerit has seen Camilo’s evolution from trialist to club Player of the Year firsthand, and explained the young forward brought more to the team than just goals.

“Being an unknown, coming into a team like this, you don’t really try to put in too high of expectations,” DeMerit said. “You look at his performances across the board and he’s been consistent in the way that he works for the team – his commitment to getting around the ball.

His free kicks, his penalty-kicking, the way he can draw penalties for us – which I think he did for us on a number of occasions this season – so you look at all that he brings to that position, and it’s exactly what that position’s supposed to do.”

Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.