Camilo for Canada?
VANCOUVER, BC — As Canada endures yet another painful international experience at this summer’s Gold Cup, in which the side sits in last place in Group A after losing its first two games, fans might take a bit of solace from word that one of Major League Soccer’s most dangerous attackers is considering signing up.
Vancouver Whitecaps striker Camilo revealed to MLSsoccer.com this week that eventually he hopes to represent his new home after playing for the club since its inaugural MLS season in 2011.
“For me, I think it will be a good opportunity to play for Canada,” Camilo said after a training session at the University of British Columbia. “Vancouver is a good city, Canada is a beautiful country and if I get the opportunity I will decide with my family.”
Camilo, 24, is currently in great form, with eight goals and three assists in his last eight matches. He's exactly the kind of creative attacking player the Canadian national team could use should he commit when he becomes fully eligible.
The Brazilian-born forward has looked into applying for permanent residency, and joins Ghanaian Gershon Koffie as the second Whitecaps player of foreign origin to express an interest in one day representing Canada. Koffie is further along in the process, having secured his permanent residency earlier this year, and is now pursuing full citizenship – which would enable him to play for the red and white.
“In Canada soccer is getting bigger and bigger,” Camilo explained. “Now, Gersh is going to take a passport and there are good young players coming up. I think it’s going to be a good national team.”
For Camilo, the Canadian experience has been a strange but pleasant adventure. When playing in South Korea for K-League side Gyeongnam, his agent contacted him about potentially playing for the Whitecaps. He laughs when recalling the memory, explaining that he thought his agent was pulling his leg.
“I asked, ‘Seriously? Canada is good for soccer?’” Camilo recalled.
The decision to come to Canada is one the diminutive striker hasn’t regretted. In 2011, Camilo was named the club’s Player of the Year, an honor, he says, attracted the attention of others clubs outside of MLS. But after a conversation with his wife, Jessica, the couple decided Vancouver felt like a place they wanted to make their home. And soccer was on the way up int he city.
“In the first year we were so bad, but people continued to go to the stadium to support us,” Camilo said. “It’s fantastic, and you see the passion.”
Now, as he enjoys his third and so far best season in Canada, Camilo may repay the Whitecaps supporters and others even more, by helping Canada become competitive once again.
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.