Lucas Cavallini - pursuit, Wave kit vs. Sporting KC

Cavallini, preventive defending key to 'Caps new style of play

Whitecaps FC head coach Marc Dos Santos sees where the game is going, and the ‘Caps are building a roster stacked with players who can withstand the style of play - with Lucas Cavallini personifying the new identity.

“The speed of transition in the game is going to change, it’s becoming faster. Players are better equipped physically,” said Dos Santos on TSN Radio 1040’s Halford and Brough on Monday morning. “The level of intensity of the game and how it’s going to play, it’s just going to be higher and higher. There’s going to be little space for those players that just rely on their technical ability but don’t have the capability and the intensity for where the game is going.”

Dos Santos cites a number of clubs who have successfully applied the philosophy, including Manchester City and Liverpool FC.

The manager highlighted two ways to go about implementing it – through performance strategy, and through preventive defending.

“We work very closely with our Performance group. We’ve been working end-to-end with detail on how to prepare our team to play in that way. Some exercises are isolated and some of the things we do have to be done in an isolated way to prepare the guys physically to endure a type of game like that,” explained Dos Santos.  

“When we attack, we have four or five guys who are ready to defend in the case we lose possession. It’s something we use a lot in training because of the way we want to play,” he added.

Oftentimes, the high press starts with the head of the attack with the striker. While still early into the 2020 schedule, Cavallini has already shown more than adept at pursuing to win the ball back, tying for third across MLS with 58 high presses after two matches, according to Second Spectrum. As a club, the 'Caps rank third with 120 behind only Sporting Kansas City and Orlando City SC.

Indeed, Dos Santos says the philosophy dictates the physical and psychological profile that the club looks for in a player. And boy, have they found a tenacious one in Cavallini.

“What we want to grow at is the moment that we lose the ball. We want to be excited at that moment. It can’t be a moment that we cry about. Because we just lost it, it’s the moment to recover it. We don’t look for quality alone. It affects the age of the player that we sign, the ability of the player to recover and to go again, his intensity towards the game,” said Dos Santos.

“What you need to be as a club is be sure of what you want to be about, that makes it clear what you’re going after.”