VANCOUVER - Vancouver Whitecaps striker Camilo Sanvezzo has only played a grand total of 42 minutes as a substitute so far this season, but he isn't letting the lack of game time affect his focus and preparation on the training track.
The 24-year-old has come off the bench in each of the last two matches. He almost scored from a stunning free kick late in last Saturday’s 2-1 defeat away to Houston Dynamo, only for the ball to bounce off the crossbar and the far post.
Despite not being able to crack the starting lineup for the Whitecaps (2-1-0) so far in 2013, Camilo has let his work ethic do the talking in order to give head coach Martin Rennie the kind of selection dilemma every manager craves.
Vancouver travels to Los Angeles this weekend for a Saturday night clash with MLS early surprise Chivas USA (2-1-1) — the Western Conference's second-place team and a far cry from the outfit that finished last in 2012.
Rennie has yet to determine his starting lineup but Camilo is hopeful he will finally get his opportunity to shine from the opening whistle.
"It's the coach's decision," the Brazilian said after training Thursday. "I have to wait and work very hard and when I get the opportunity I have to do well.
"He hasn't made the decision yet, but he told everyone to be prepared and be focused for when they start the game."
While Camilo isn't showing any signs of frustration, he is having to adjust to a limited number of minutes after spending a lot of time in Vancouver's starting 11. He started 29 games and scored a team-high 12 goals in Vancouver's inaugural MLS season in 2011 before following that up with 19 starts in 28 appearances for five goals last season.
"It's not always good to stay on the bench but I hope I can start soon," he said. "It's not easy when you stay out but the coach gives every player confidence, he talks to the players and it's good to keep our confidence up."
Camilo says he hasn't entertained the thought of approaching Rennie and asking for a chance.
"Everyone wants a chance," he said. "But he knows what I can do on the field and in training so I've just got to keep training very hard."
Rennie has had no complaints about Camilo's output since pre-season began, saying the coaching staff has been spoiled for choice with the players that are at their disposal.
"He's been doing very well," Rennie said. "It's just that we've got other good players as well.
"It's nice for us to have those options. There’s nothing negative about his play at all. Camilo has been doing well."
The coach also suggested it was only a matter of time before the fan favourite would see his name in the starting 11.
"Camilo's started a lot of games since I've been here and he'll start a lot more I'm sure," he said.
"Each game we have to look at who we want to start and who we want to bring on, and we have yet to do that for the Chivas game but obviously Camilo is in contention. He has done well the minutes that he has played this season, he's always a threat, he's always dangerous when he has the ball and his movement is good so he's someone we're very glad to have."
And the situation is made easier by the fact that Camilo isn't voicing any frustration.
"If he is, I don't understand Portuguese anyway," Rennie joked.
"He really has had a great attitude about it and he knows that his chance will come and he knows that he will play and he knows that he will end up having a big season for us. He’s been very patient with that."
One player to benefit from Camilo's benching has been speedy attacker Erik Hurtado, who started and played 71 minutes against the Dynamo.
The fifth overall pick in this year's MLS SuperDraft also assisted on Darren Mattocks' wonder goal in the loss.
He feels the intense competition within the Whitecaps squad has significantly improved his game.
"When you're coming out trying to fight for a position, and you're not guaranteed (a spot), you make yourself and you make your team so much better and that's what this next level is about and that’s why I love it so much," Hurtado said.