The Whitecaps join Canadian striker Cavalli, veteran defender Nirwinski

The Whitecaps join Canadian striker Cavalli, veteran defender Nirwinski

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

The Whitecaps said on Monday that they had not exercised contract options for Cavolini, Nirwinski, goalkeeper Cody Cropper, midfielder Leonard Owusu and defender Marcos Godinho.

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

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

The Whitecaps are also not picking up the options of striker Toussaint Ricketts and defender Florian Jungwirth, although the team said it is in discussions with those players about off-field opportunities.

The Whitecaps are exercising the contract option of centre-back Derrick Cornelis, who is on loan with Greek Super League side Pantolikos FC until December.

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

He had 18 goals in 63 appearances in all competitions with Vancouver. Cavalli also became a factor in the Canadian national team with 17 goals and 33 caps.

Nirwinski was selected seventh overall by Vancouver in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft. He made 141 appearances in six seasons with the White Caps, scoring four goals.

Godinho, who has five caps for Canada, made 26 appearances in 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 grateful 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 wonderful individuals. They will always be welcome at our club and we wish each of them the best of luck.”

The Whitecaps have 23 players under contract for next season, with Cornelius and midfielder Kiyo Alexander on loan.

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