Whitecaps part with Canadian striker Cavallini, veteran defender Nerwinski

VANCOUVER — Canadian international striker Lucas Cavallini and longtime defender Jake Nerwinski are among the players who will not be returning to the Vancouver Whitecaps for the 2023 Major League Soccer season.

The Whitecaps said Monday they did not exercise the contract options for Cavallini, Nerwinski, goalkeeper Cody Cropper, midfielder Leonard Owusu and defender Marcus Godinho.

Cavallini was the club's second-highest earner at US$1,462,500 behind fellow designated player Ryan Gauld ($2.265 million) in the 2022 season. He was also the highest-paid Canadian in MLS.

Cavallini, Godinho and Owusu are eligible for the MLS re-entry draft, while Cropper and Nerwinski are eligible for free agency.

The Whitecaps are also not picking up the options on striker Tosaint Ricketts and defender Florian Jungwirth, though the team said it is discussing opportunities off the pitch with those players.

The Whitecaps are exercising the contract option of centre back Derek Cornelius, who is on loan with Greek Super League side Panetolikos FC through December.

Cavallini, who was named to Canada's World Cup squad on Sunday, signed a three-year deal with an option for a fourth season in December 2019.

He had 18 goals in 63 appearances across all competitions with Vancouver. Cavallini also became a fixture on Canada's national team with 17 goals over 33 caps.

Nerwinski was selected seventh overall by Vancouver in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft. He made 141 appearances over six seasons with the Whitecaps, scoring four goals.

Godinho, who has five caps for Canada, made 26 appearances over two seasons in Vancouver. Owusu made 63 appearances over three seasons and Cropper made 15 appearances last season.

Cornelius, who has appeared 14 times for Canada, has one goal in 35 appearances with the Whitecaps since joining the team for the 2019 MLS season.

“We are very thankful to Cody, Jake, Marcus, Leo and Lucas,” Whitecaps sporting director Axel Schuster said in a statement. “All of these men helped us win the 2022 Canadian Championship and are fantastic individuals. They will always be welcome at our club and we wish every one of them the very best.”

The Whitecaps have 23 players under contract for next season, with Cornelius and midfielder Caio Alexandre out on loan.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 14, 2022.

The Canadian Press