VANCOUVER - There’s no question that Camilo Sanvezzo is frustrated. The Vancouver Whitecaps forward admitted that himself this week.
With his team sporting a deeper squad, new strikers and a need to balance playing time, the franchise’s all-time MLS point-getter has only seen 23 minutes of action through the first two games of the season.
But that frustration with a lack of game time so far does not mean the young Brazilian is pouting or complaining, far from it.
“I want to play every single game, but I understand what the coach wants. I will keep working hard every single day,” Camilo said.
“Always we want to start the game. But when we don’t start, we have to be focused for when we come on, we change the game.”
That’s exactly what coach Martin Rennie is banking on. Despite a number of offensive weapons to choose from — especially with the additions of rookies Kekuta Manneh and Erik Hurtado — he stresses just how important the 24-year-old Camilo is to the team.
“We rate him really highly,” Rennie said. “Any team that’s successful, there’s more than one or two strikers that score goals. If you look last year at San Jose they had (Steven) Lenhart, (Chris) Wondolowski and (Alan) Gordon. But often it was only two on the field at one time and yet they all had an excellent season. Managing that effectively is important for us because we’ve got a lot of players like that who can play but need to be ready to come off the bench at certain times.
“(Camilo) will be in the mix with all those guys.”
As one of six current Whitecaps who have been with the club since their MLS debut in 2011, Camilo has been a c onsistent offensive threat. In his first season, he led the squad with 12 goals and three assists. Last year, he was second on the team in goals behind Darren Mattocks with five tallies and seven helpers.
“The first season I score but I don’t give a lot of assists,” he said. “Last season I score just five and give more assists. This year I want to make combine, so more assists and more goals too.”
Last Saturday, he came on as a substitute in the second half of the team’s 2-1 win over the Columbus Crew — recording a shot and generating several quality chances. But it wasn’t his offensive impact that stood out.
“I defend well and we keep the ball well and I think (coach Rennie) likes,” he said. “If he don’t like, then I’m going to ask him what I have to change for me to be better.”
That’s not a necessity just yet for the 5-foot-7 striker as Rennie had nothing but great things to say about the third-year ‘Cap.
“He’s someone who seems to keep on improving. His passing range has improved, his creativity has improved and I think that’s something we’ll see the benefit of this season,” the second-year coach said. “Saturday, he kept the ball well and had a couple chances and created a couple decent chances.”
As for the Whitecaps’ hot start, Camilo really likes what he’s seen from the team.
“Last two years, I never seen more chances like we have,” he said. “This year, we have a little bit better team because we keep more of the ball. We have more experienced guys and we have a better team than last year.
“The guys feel more comfortable in MLS, the guys know how to play. This year we’re going to make a good season.”
The Whitecaps officially signed 22-year-old centre back Adam Clement Thursday. The 6-foot-4 American defender was chosen 31st overall in the 2013 supplemental draft following four seasons of NCAA Division 1 soccer with the Duquesne University Dukes.
Thursday, the Whitecaps reserve squad lost 3-0 to the University of B.C. men’s soccer team.