It’s a matter of degrees
Two degrees from Mac and one degree below Toronto FC for Angelo Cavalluzzo
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.”
Hamilton goalkeeper and Mac grad Angelo Cavalluzzo has been signed to a United States Soccer League contract by Toronto FC II.