Lucas Cavallini - Vancouver Whitecaps - press conference
Courtesy of Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Lucas Cavallini says signing with Vancouver Whitecaps an "easy decision"

VANCOUVER, B.C. – If there's pressure on Lucas Cavallini's shoulders, he's certainly not showing it.

The Canadian international was revealed as Vancouver Whitecaps FC's club-record signing on Monday, in an overall package that the Caps' sporting director Axel Schuster said was in the "eight digits."

The Whitecaps have broken the bank for their newest Designated Player, and with that comes the pressure to perform and an expectation to score goals. It's what Cavallini expects from himself, and after playing his club football in Mexico and Uruguay, he's not fazed by any of it.

"I come from leagues where the fans pressure players way more than here," Cavallini told reporters on Monday. "Pressure's not going to be a question here.

"I was impressed by what Vancouver had to offer me as a footballer. They brought me here for a reason. What I like to do is score goals and help this team win as much games as possible. It's been 10 years since I left Canada. I want to bring what I've learned from outside to a club like this. The club has a long history and I'm willing to do what it takes."

Born in Toronto, Cavallini moved to Uruguay as a 16-year-old in 2009. After playing his youth soccer with Uruguayan power Nacional, the striker signed a pro deal in 2012, playing five seasons in the Uruguayan Primera Division, scoring 44 goals and adding 11 assists in 125 appearances across all competitions.

That earned him a move to Mexico with Liga MX side Club Puebla, first on loan and then signing a four-year deal in June 2018, and the proven goalscorer continued to deliver, scoring 29 goals and adding eight assists in 81 appearances across all competitions.

The kind of form the Whitecaps are banking on him now bringing to Vancouver and to Major League Soccer.

It's a homecoming of sorts. Cavallini has only ever played as a pro in his home country at international level with the Canadian national team. So why was now the right time to change that?

"It was an easy decision coming home," Cavallini said. "It's a league that's competitive. It's comparable to Liga MX, as you can see in Champions League. There's a lot of potential to be a better league than the Mexican league. It's just a process that's going to take time, but with the right players and the right mentality, it's going to be a really important league and one of the best in the world in the future."

Exactly what Cavallini's role will be in Vancouver on the field is still to be worked out. No matter how head coach Marc Dos Santos decides to use him, his focus is clear.

"My natural position is as a No. 9," Cavallini said. "We haven't spoken directly about [a specific role]. Once we start training we'll get to know what position works best for me and the only objective I have is to score goals.

"The big objective here is making the playoffs. That's something important for me, it's something important for the club, so that's the key thing we need this season...The core is good in this team. There's a lot of key players, there's a lot of quality players."

That mentality was something Schuster highlighted as one of the reasons for bringing Cavallini to Vancouver, along with his desire to put in a defensive shift from the front when called upon, something the soon to be 27-year-old readily admits is another key component of his game.

"It's not only about scoring goals," Cavallini noted. "As a No. 9 you're the first key player in that system, that pressuring system, that defending system. It's an extra. There's not a lot of No. 9s that do that.

"I like to do things extra. With the help of my teammates, we'll do this as a team. It's not just all about me. It's all about the team."