Cava 4

Last week the ‘Caps held a team event to watch the second semifinal of the UEFA Champions League. The players were buzzing as Real Madrid made a late comeback.

Lucas Cavallini would have loved to stay for extra time, but instead he said his goodbyes at the end of regulation and headed back to his car.

He had to pick up his daughter from school.

Following Wednesday’s Canadian Championship win, he brought his son on the field with him for the first time.

Cavallini is a family man, and the father of three is finally enjoying the comforts of a normal season in Vancouver after two years that were anything but.

"It's good to give them stabilization. It makes me more calm and happy, because they love it here. And the fact that we're playing here in front of our home fans, honestly it gives me butterflies every time I step on the pitch."

After joining the team in 2020, Cava saw his season come to a quick halt.

Amidst a global pandemic with questions abound, he made the difficult decision to miss the MLS is Back Tournament.

Later that year he was still forced to be away from his family as the ‘Caps played home games in Portland.

But by the end of the 2020 season, he had found his form. Four goals in his final six starts.

Come 2021, life was still unsettled. He brought his family with him to live in Salt Late City.

It wasn’t Vancouver, but at least they were together.

On the pitch Cava continued where he left off. A goal in a season-opening 1-0 win over Portland. Then when he returned from international duty, goals in consecutive road matches at Seattle and Dallas at the end of June and start of July.

He looked to be on his way, but through injury and international duty, he would only be available for one more start over the next three months.

His absence coincided with a change at head coach as Vanni Sartini stepped into the interim role. It also came during the breakout of striker Brian White, causing speculation on his future.

But through it all, Cavallini did what he always does. He dedicated himself to the people around him and gave his all for the team.

“I want to praise him a lot,” said Sartini. “I think that in this eight months that I’ve had him as a player, he is a top professional. The weeks that he sees that he’s starting, he works. The weeks that he sees that he’s not starting, he works.”

And while Cavallini is motivated to get his team on the scoresheet more, the signs are there that in 2022 he’s getting back to his best.

Early in the season he scored in Houston. Against Sporting KC he caused havoc in the box to allow Ryan Raposo to score, and again in Montreal for White. And over these last two matches he played playmaker with a hulking run against Toronto to set up the winner, and a deft cross to Deiber Caicedo against Valour FC that could have been another assist.

"That's what I owe the club, what I owe the fans, and what I owe my teammates and myself. So I've got to step it up as much as I can and the goals will come. I don't doubt that."

All this comes as he pushes in the final months leading up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, working day in and day out to keep sharp and earn a chance to help Canada make noise on the global stage.

“I can understand why he’s such an important player for John Herdman in the national team,” tells Sartini. “He is not only a good player, but a top professional.”

For Cavallini, another big moment in red could come in June when Canada returns to Vancouver to play at BC Place on June 5 against Iran, and June 9 versus Curaçao in the Concacaf Nations League.

It's an opportunity that he relishes.

"I'm amped. They couldn't have picked a better place right now because the fans haven't been involved as much in our qualification games, so I think this is a great step to get Vancouver involved."