Training - group - running - 2019
Bob Frid/Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Storylines to watch in San Diego

Off to San Diego we go!

After the first week of training in Vancouver, the ‘Caps travel to Southern California on Friday for an 11-day camp that will feature their first preseason matches of 2020: January 28 vs. Columbus, February 1 vs. FC Dallas, and February 4 vs. LA Galaxy.

Follow Whitecaps FC on Twitter for live updates during the matches and stay tuned to whitecapsfc.com for complete post-match coverage. 

As preseason starts to ramp up, here are a few things to look out for.

Fresh blood

“El Tanque” has arrived in the Village.

Vancouver’s marquee offseason signing, Lucas Cavallini, is expected to see his first minutes in a Whitecaps FC kit next week. But he’s already left an impression on his teammates.

“The biggest thing, besides the goalscoring, is the presence he has when we’re defending,” said Whitecaps FC midfielder Russell Teibert. “I’ve never seen a striker that likes to slide tackle defenders and centre backs like he does. He’s such a [workhorse]."

Cavallini is one of seven new additions to Vancouver’s 2020 roster, including wingers Cristian Dájome and Ryan Raposo, midfielder Leonard Owusu, left back Cristián Gutiérrez, and Whitecaps FC BMO Academy System products Patrick Metcalfe and Gianfranco Facchineri.

Certainly, they’ll all be looking to make a name for themselves as the ‘Caps begin preseason.

Competition for places

With the departure of Doneil Henry to Suwon Samsung Bluewings in South Korea, the battle for Vancouver’s centre back positions will be one to watch.  

The ‘Caps announced this week that they have permanently acquired Erik Godoy via transfer after the Argentine impressed on loan last season. Godoy is expected to meet the team in San Diego, and he’ll be joined by fellow returning centre backs Jasser Khmiri and Derek Cornelius.

Will a clear partnership emerge? Will head coach Marc Dos Santos experiment with a back three? We’re going to start to get some of those answers.  

It will also be interesting to see who emerges as the second-choice goalkeeper behind Maxime Crepeau, with Zac MacMath having been traded to Real Salt Lake. The only other goalkeeper currently on Vancouver’s MLS roster is Thomas Hasal, though fellow Academy product Isaac Boehmer and MLS SuperDraft selection Daniel Gagliardi are also in camp with the squad.

Adnan, Inbeom coming off strong offseasons

There are a number of key players returning to the squad in 2020, including Designated Players Ali Adnan and Inbeom Hwang.

Adnan and Hwang were busy over the break.

Adnan joined his Iraq teammates for a pair of 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in November while Hwang flew home to compete in the East Asian Football Federation E-1 Football Championship with South Korea in December. Hwang continued his strong play from last season, scoring two goals in three matches and earning tournament MVP honours.   

After a busy and productive offseason, this will be both players' first full preseason with the ‘Caps.

More moves?

It’s been a productive offseason for the club – on and off the field. And Dos Santos hinted on Thursday that there could be more additions coming, as is often the case during the preseason.

Dos Santos and Whitecaps FC sporting director Axel Schuster are still on the hunt for external reinforcements, and there are four trialists currently in camp vying for roster spots in midfielder Rodrigo da Costa, right back Cole Dasilva, Canadian international centre back Amer Didić, and midfielder Aboubacar Sissoko.

Da Costa most recently played for USL Championship side FC Tulsa, Dasilva for English Championship club Brentford FC reserves team, Didić for CPL club FC Edmonton, and Sissoko at the Université de Montréal.