Lucas Cavallini is one of the big bets for the Vancouver Whitecaps this season. Cavallini has consistently shown great adaptability within his team’s tactics to play different styles, participating in the Liga MX with Club Puebla and Uruguayan league where he conquered one championship title with club Peñarol of Uruguay.
Being of the few Canadian players active in Mexican Liga MX, his performance was rapidly noticed by the national team scouts for both, the under-20 and under-23 teams.
This tactical analysis shows how his physical strength is one of his weapons.
The 27-year old, who maintains his dream of playing in a major European league such as Serie A or La Liga, scored five goals in four appearances during the 2019 CONCACAF Gold cup. Plenty of skills that could benefit him to become a success in the MLS, he’s a player to follow closely.
In the scout report, we will explain his skills to play as a centre forward, sometimes playing as a ‘post’ and ending the play at the box.
Dialogue with the midfield
In this scout report, we will show his skills to assist his team from the offensive line.
At the right moment, he knows when to show himself to receive the ball, then, take it to the box or pass it to the better-positioned teammate.
Here, we observe how he is coming behind the midfield so he supports his team by creating an organized move. He gets the ball, controls it, passes it and then creates new options for the move.
His game, combined with determination, strength and solid long pass skills, adds tactical variety to the Whitecaps’ scheme. He’s not a natural midfield organizer, however, he possesses mental clarity to pass the ball or face opponents.
In this image, Cavallani is ready to assist (at right side) his central defender by positioning himself behind the rival’s middle line.
He clearly understands that he can get the ball and (always keeping his head up) make a switch of play to the left side allowing his team to generate a new move down the wings.
In this analysis we see that Cavallini displays another of his great skills, he quickly positions himself ahead of the opponent’s defensive line. He’s the perfect ‘target’ for his teammates, they know about Cavallini’s great skills to control and endure rivals’ collisions.
Playing against LA Galaxy, once he controls the ball, he plays it to his teammate who is in a better position. Then, he moves into an offensive position inside the rival’s box.
Cavallini meets all the ‘specs’ any coach would request for a centre forward. From the total of balls he gets and delivers to his teammates, he achieves a 76.1% correct passes; when passing the ball to the front, his number is 62.5%. These numbers support the fact that he is a reliable player when the team transition the ball from the defensive to the offensive stage.
Even though he is 1.82m height, he’s not in the category of the tallest players in the league, however, while playing in Mexico and Uruguay, he took advantage of it.
Cavallini knows how to open free spaces so his teammates will find better positions. But also, he understands that one of the most critical skills in a striker is being patient. In the image below, Cavallini waits for just the right time to attack for the ball, positioning himself behind a centre back and ahead of the wing-back; he prevails in the air duel and wins the match.
Cavallini gets around the back of the central defender and positions himself in the best place to threaten the goal.
With his previous team, Puebla at the Liga MX, he became a relevant player for the fixed tactic scheme. Winning 37.4% of air plays, he’s a player very complicate to keep in check.
He likes to be away from the striking zone so he can sprint up and arrive at the goal area with great speed and high jumps. In the image above, we observe when he initiates his run just when his teammate kicks the ball.
In the next image, his physical strength defeats the opponent’s central defenders. With a ‘just in time’ jump, but also combined with his strength and endurance, he pushed away from the defender, then he strikes and scores.
While playing for the Canada National Team, he repeats the same formula. He positions himself behind the further central defender’s back (from the ball) and waits the right moment to start his sprint to connect and strike.
In this sequence, the first image shows how the 27-year old keeps his focus on his teammate move.
Now, in the image below, we observe how he positioned himself to strike the ball with his head.
One of his most visible skills is the power of his shooting. Being a left striker, he constantly lies on that side and looks for the free space to threaten the opponent’s goal.
His numbers for shots at the goal are around 43.5%, almost three shots per match.
Cavallini always tries to get advantage from his explosive speed and short distance sprints to get those couple of meters he needs to shoot to the goal.
In the image above, playing with Puebla at Liga MX 2019, we see how he already has won the duel against the central defender with the short-fast sprint.
We’d talked about his technical and tactical skills, here he displays an excellent control of the ball that allows him to be in a great position before shooting.
When he strikes in the box, it is very complicated for the opponent’s goalkeeper to react on time due to the ball’s high speed.
Here, playing with the Canada National team vs Mexico at the 2019 Gold Cup, he defeats the defender and positions himself behind the ball so he produces a powerful shot.
In this image, the 1v1 match is generated to take advantage of his skills.
Once he’s positioned between the ball and the rival, he set and executes the shooting with his left foot.
At the beginning of this report, we spoke about his physical strength and endurance. He takes greater advantage of both when he plays on the counter. It’s not a rare event he faces central defenders on the open space; he normally runs from behind his midfield assisting his team to make the move.
In this image, we observe the Whitecaps playing the counter at the opening game vs. Kansas City.
Inside the box, while controlling the ball, he can dribble in the reduced space.
Out of his 20 goals last year, 33% were executed using his right foot. For a left-footed player, this is very significant and attractive.
Now, how did he manage to score with his right foot?
His main virtue is when he plays into the box. We have explained before how he supports the defensive to offensive transition, but once he’s in the box, he ‘breaks’ opponent’s positions.
Here, we see Cavallini’s favourite offensive game. A long pass from his defensive line when he plays with his back facing rival’s goal. Once he stops his move, he turns around and gets in a position behind the ball and running with open space in front of him.
Cavallini is a ‘latín blood’ player, he likes the ‘strong, physical game’. During his five years playing at Uruguay, they taught him that the job of a centre forward player is not just the attack, but also to defend from his position.
The Whitecaps play a 4-4-2 line up where Cavallani plays alongside another centre forward. He applies pressure on the opponent’s defensive line since the very first time the ball is playing, so he plans to disrupt any organized play from its very beginning.
In this sequence of images, Cavallini attacks to the Los Angeles midfielder, then as soon as the ball is played toward opponent’s central defender, he continues applying pressure to recover/disrupt the moves.
Like we mentioned before, Cavallini is a tactically ordered player and he shows that skill when his team doesn’t have the ball in possession.
When we analyze his heat map, we see he spends most of his time into rival’s field, but if his support is needed for defensive work, he does it without any problem whatsoever.
We observe in the images below how he keeps focus to the defensive midfielder Russell’s Kansas City. When he gets the ball, Cavallani rushes him up so eventually, he recovers the possession of the ball.
As previously mentioned, he uses his air prowess to just not strike but also to receive, control and protect the ball while looking options to make new moves.
Sometimes he plays against the opponent’s two central defenders and emerges victorious due to his physical endurance.
But it’s important to mention that this skill is also used for defensive work. Playing fixed tactics is where he performs this skill better.
Here, he’s positioned as a ”safety” player.
Having a good timing to sprint and jump, he wins the duel over the opponent’s defensive players.
Even though he was known to be a physically strong player when he played at Uruguay and Mexico, now that he plays at the MLS those skills Will find more resistance and competition.
If his current club understands he must play in a system that allows him to find open spaces, where his fast sprints could break opponent’s lines and have the chance to face-strike rival’s goal, he could become the Whitecaps reference player.
Though he displays defensive efforts, he must improve in this aspect so he could increase his team’s resilience.
We must not forget he’s playing for the very first time for a professional club at his country of birth and this must be a highly motivational factor to keep fighting to become a remarkable MLS player.