VANCOUVER, BC – In case there was any doubt, the so-called curse of Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s number seven jersey is a thing of the past.
Camilo, who switched his jersey number from 37 to seven in advance of the 2013 campaign, is coming off the club’s most successful individual season since joining Major League Soccer three years ago – and one of its most successful all-time.
The Brazilian striker etched his name into the club and league record books by scoring a league-high 22 goals in 2013 (plus three in the Amway Canadian Championship), becoming the first Whitecaps FC player to claim the MLS Golden Boot as the league’s top goalscorer.
- Watch all 25 of Camilo's goals throughout the MLS regular season and Amway Canadian Championship
22 goals is also the second highest total any ‘Caps player has scored in a single season, dating back to the club’s inaugural season in 1974, and eighth highest in MLS history.
“I’m very proud,” Camilo told reporters following his hat-trick in Vancouver’s regular season finale. “I train hard every single day … I just want to say thanks. Our players helped me all season.”
As an added bonus, many of Camilo’s goals this past season were of the spectacular variety. Among others, there was the scissor-kick goal against Portland, a clear frontrunner for MLS Goal of the Year, the long-range free kick against Montreal, as well as some slick moves capped up with a cool finish against Chicago – fittingly, the club’s 100th goal in MLS.
Camilo said there are a number of factors that contributed towards his success in 2013. The overall improvement of the team played into it – as did the fact that he moved into his more comfortable central forward position. The 25-year-old striker was also quick to credit Whitecaps FC assistant coach Carl Robinson, who he works with “every single day” after training.
“He helps me a lot,” Camilo said. “When I miss the opportunity and don’t hit the target [he says], ‘Shoot on target and make the goalie make a save.’ This helped me a lot and gave confidence to me.”
In total, Camilo has scored 39 goals in 92 appearances over the past three seasons, making him Whitecaps FC’s all-time leading goalscorer in MLS. Only two players in the league, San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski (54) and Real Salt Lake’s Alvaro Saborio (40), have scored more goals over the same period.
Camilo’s heroics over the past several months have not gone unnoticed. He was named MLS Player of the Week a league-high four times, in addition to being named MLS Player of the Month twice – most recently in October.
The two-time Whitecaps FC BMO Player of the Year also made his first appearance at the MLS All-Star game, where he set up the league’s lone goal with a perfect free-kick delivery.
It’s been a banner year for the diminutive Brazilian, who has become widely regarded as one of Vancouver’s most exciting athletes. The city has embraced him and the feeling is mutual, despite some initial reservations.
Camilo said he wasn’t sure what to expect when he first came to Vancouver. He thought it was simply a hockey city, but gave it a shot anyway – a decision that has proved fruitful for both he and the club. Now, three years later, he can’t see himself anywhere else.
“I love the city, I love the support,” said Camilo, who has expressed interest in playing for the Canadian senior national team. “I want to stay here a long time.”