It’s a mat­ter of de­grees

Two de­grees from Mac and one de­gree be­low Toronto FC for An­gelo Caval­luzzo

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - STEVE MILTON

There is plenty of time for An­gelo Caval­luzzo to be­come a pro­fes­sional en­gi­neer. But his time for pro­fes­sional soc­cer is right now.

The goal­keeper from Hamil­ton, 24, has been signed to a United States Soc­cer League by Toronto FC II, the backup squad to the Ma­jor League Soc­cer fi­nal­ists.

TFC II plays in the USL, the sec­ond-high­est level of pro­fes­sional play on this con­ti­nent af­ter a re­struc­tur­ing of the U.S. soc­cer de­vel­op­ment pyra­mid four years ago. Twenty MLS fran­chises, in­clud­ing Toronto, have their No. 2 teams in the 30-team USL.

“I think it’s great we’re in that league,” Caval­luzzo says. “It gets you qual­ity games against qual­ity op­po­nents.”

Caval­luzzo played five of those qual­ity games in the USL on an emer­gency ba­sis last year, start­ing two and lead­ing the top four FC II goalies in over­all save per­cent­age.

That’s good. But how he got there? That’s re­ally good.

Last spring, while he was pon­der­ing his ca­reer path af­ter fin­ish­ing his univer­sity ca­reer with de­grees in bio and chem­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing from McMaster — he back­stopped the Ma­raud­ers to a pair of pro­vin­cial ti­tles and a na­tional sil­ver medal — Caval­luzzo was an as­sis­tant goalie coach with TFC’s Academy. He had taken the job the year be­fore.

All top soc­cer teams have “acad­e­mies” which de­velop tal­ent and rep­re­sent the club at age-class soc­cer events. Caval­luzzo him­self played for TFC Academy in his last two years of high school, be­fore join­ing the Ma­raud­ers.

He’d at­tend St. Jean de Brébeuf Catholic Sec­ondary School for morn­ing classes, then catch a GO train to Toronto ev­ery day for train­ing ses­sions. “Last year, TFC’s top goalie coach, Jon Con­way, said since I was there I should come and work out with the sec­ond team,” Caval­luzzo said.

He did, and ev­ery­thing spi­ralled up­ward from there. Caval­luzzo had al­ready been called into a TFC II game as an in­jury re­place­ment when Toronto’s MLS starter, Clint Ir­win, was lost to in­jury in late June.

TFC II starter Alex Bono was called up to re­place him.

That cre­ated a more per­ma­nent vac­uum for a No. 2 goalie on the sec­ond team, and Caval­luzzo filled it, be­hind re­place­ment starter Filippo Di Ben­nardo.

“An­gelo was faced with some dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions last sea­son,” Toronto FC II head coach Ja­son Bent said in a team re­lease. “Each time, he han­dled the challenge very well, show­ing that he could cope with the de­mands of be­ing a pro­fes­sional.”

So, they signed him to a full con­tract. Train­ing camp be­gan in Jan­uary, with league games start­ing in late March, and he re­cently re­turned from 10 days in Los An­ge­les with the No. 1 team. He lives in an apart­ment near TFC’s Downsview train­ing com­plex, with rent and trans­porta­tion pro­vided for by the team.

“I can eas­ily live on the earn­ings of a player and as a coach,” he said. “I wouldn’t have fore­seen this a year ago. I was pre­pared to find my en­gi­neer­ing job and go on with life.

“But I can take my op­por­tu­ni­ties now. I can fall back on my de­grees, so I don’t have the pres­sure that some of the other play­ers do … hop­ing to get that First Team con­tract.

“The hope is to start for the USL team, and then challenge for the First Team job.

“I don’t know if it’s pos­si­ble, but af­ter what’s hap­pened in the last year, I think any­thing can hap­pen.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Hamil­ton goal­keeper and Mac grad An­gelo Caval­luzzo has been signed to a United States Soc­cer League con­tract by Toronto FC II.

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