Pgoto courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/canadasoccer
The 'what do canada do to replace Olivier Occean?' question was answered today with the call up of 19 year old Lucas Cavallini.
After Olivier Occean's joke of a red card against Cuba, for the sort of minor shove that is commonplace throughout football games everywhere, he is of course suspended for Canada's final group game in Honduras on Tuesday. Possible replacements were discussed on twitter, with Marcus Haber, Randy Edwini-Bonsu and Lucas Cavallini the more realistic names proposed.
It was Cavallini himself who broke the news on twitter on Saturday evening, saying the following:
Game should have been a win for us but I'm happy for the goal and now flight tonight first class to meet up wit
#CMNT in Honduras for Tues!!
That was later confirmed by a tweet from the CSA's account, as follows:
Lucas Cavallini / @LucasCavallini17 will join #canMNT in Honduras ahead of Tuesday's all-important FIFA World Cup Qualifiers match.
So Cavallini it is, 19 years old and pulled into the country's biggest game in a long long time. No pressure kid.
This won't be his first cap as he was called into the squad for the friendly against Trinidad and Tobago back in August, coming on in the second half of that game. He's also represented Canada at under 20 level (though he is still under 20, he wasn't selected for the current training came as he'll be to old when the U20 world cup comes around again.) and the under 23 level, playing in the olympic qualifying event this March that saw Canada get to the semi finals, beating the US along the way, a game in which Cavallini scored the second Canadian goal. Enjoy the highlights again here, we were all over them!
So, he's not exactly a completely untested rookie, and the fact he's playing (and scoring goals) in the Uruguayan Primera division with Juventud de las Piedras, is a good sign that he's in playing shape and form. I'll also make the lazy assumption that it's a similar style of play and refereeing in that league as to what we can expect on Tuesday night, so experience with those kind of antics is another good thing.
It's an interesting call, and a bold one. The fact that he's relatively unburdened with the baggage of Canada's history, all the ghosts and mental hurdles I talked about last night, could well be a very positive thing. The next question is will he play, or will the more experienced Iain Hume be called up instead to replace Occean in the starting lineup. That would be my guess, but I think the youngster will have a part to play at some point in proceedings.