Canada is far from being considered as a big football country. With a very harsh winter that lasts for at least 6 months and an entire country covered with snow during that time, the Canadians are more into indoor sports, with Ice Hockey being the most popular one by far. Furthermore, last week the Toronto Raptors won the NBA title and send the country into a basketball frenzy. However, with 3 teams currently in the MLS, the Canadian people are getting more and more familiar with the game of football. 2 years ago, Toronto even won the MLS title. Being a country that accepts a lot of immigrants, the social mix means that more people are drawn to the game that they followed in their origin countries. Immigration has a huge impact on the game in Canada and Lucas Cavallini provides a good example for this phenomenon.
Canadian born Cavallini, was raised by an Argentinian father who immigrated to Canada and married a local woman. With an Argentinian father, no other sport stood a chance to compete with Lucas’ heart, and football was in his blood since he can remember himself. At the age of 16 he left the convenient life of Canada, took the opposite rout to his father’s and went south to fulfill his dream and play football in Argentina, but somehow found himself in the neighboring Uruguay with Club Nacional. He didn’t manage to play a lot in Nacional and found himself in Fenix. At Fenix, he finally managed to fulfil his potential and after several years there he did the unthinkable and moved to play in Nacional’s bitter rival: Peñarol. Just to understand the magnitude of this kind of act: It’s the Uruguayan equivalent of moving from Boca Juniors to River Plate. Additionally, during his time in Uruguay, Cavallini obtained a Uruguayan nationality. Think of that for a moment, a Canadian with Argentinian roots just added more diversity to his mix. What an immigration story.
One season in Peñarol was enough for Mexican side Puebla to recruit him to their ranks on a one season loan. In Mexico, Cavallini continued to impress, scoring 20 goals in 35 games, so Puebla activated their buying option and gave him a 4-year contract. Puebla was in the relegation battles in the Mexican league for many years, but since Cavallini arrived, not only that the club isn’t participating in relegation battles anymore but are even fighting each tournament for a playoff spot to the last match day.
Cavallini isn’t the most famous nor talented player in the Canadian Squad. This title belongs to 18 year old Alphonso Davies from Bayern München. However, unlike the very young Davies that is still in process of adapting to the Bundesliga and playing only several minutes here and there, Cavallini is playing well in the highest-level league that the CONCACAF has to offer, and this fact gives him more of an influence on the pitch. Cavallini recognises that the Canadian public isn’t 100% supportive of the national team, mainly because the fact that the team still doesn’t show enough success. Canada failed to qualify to the World Cup in Russia, but the plans in the northern country are to impress in the Gold Cup as a first step, and then try to qualify to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Canada should qualify from the group phase in the Gold Cup, although being with Mexico in the same group. The real test for Cavallini will arrive in the knockout stage, where Canada could have a tough rival. No one expects Canada to win the tournament, but Cavallini would like to demonstrate that he can replicate his good form from the Mexican league also in the national team. Who knows, maybe Cavallini could lead the Canadian team to success and maybe, having the public in Canada support the team in the way they deserve.