Camilo back in camp, closer to new deal with 'Caps
After a bit of a phony war on Twitter during the offseason, Camilo is back for preseason, and the Vancouver Whitecaps FC Player of the Year in 2011 is closer to getting the raise he says he deserves.
"He's back now," club president Bob Lenarduzzi told TEAM 1410 radio in Vancouver on Thursday. "We still haven't redone the deal, but in our case and in his, it looks like we'll get there in short order."
If and when the deal is finalized, it will mark a happy return for the 23-year-old Camilo, who quickly became a fan favorite with his spectacular free-kick goals and contagious work rate last season.
“I’m very happy to be back,” the Brazilian told reporters through a translator on Thursday after his first preseason training session. “I felt very welcomed last year by the fans and the club.”
The diminutive attacker was one of the club’s most consistent players in 2011, scoring 12 goals, five of which were scored away from home. He also demonstrated his versatility, playing extended time as a wide player instead of his more natural position of striker.
Camilo returned to the fold this week with the same smile that became his trademark through the Whitecaps' inaugural season in MLS.
“He’s got a nice Brazilian tan as well,” laughed captain Jay DeMerit. “Hopefully he can get out there and start scoring goals for us again. He was fantastic for us last season and he needs to mirror that again this year.”
With the additions of Darren Mattocks and Lee Nguyen to an already large group of attackers, and the likely signing of Maltese international Etienne Barbara, Camilo feels the added competition will push everyone to improve.
“It will be more difficult to get my place on the team,” Camilo said. “But the team will be better, and there’ll be a lot more quality players to play with.”
Camilo was joined on Thursday by Vancouver’s big offseason signing, former Korean international Lee Young-Pyo. The fullback has been training in Korea over the past few months, but didn’t link up with the team until later in the week due to family reasons.
“Hopefully he can come in and put a stamp on right away,” DeMerit said of Lee. “He’s got an abundance of skills, talents and experiences. Hopefully he can come in and do what he’s brought in for, and that’s to solidify the group.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.