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Coffee with the Caps, Monday December 23

Max’s face is me waiting to open presents

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MLS: D.C. United at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Goooood Monday morning Caps fans. The holidays are upon us but that doesn’t mean we don’t have more than our fair share of transfer rumors going about. Think of them, I suppose, as some early stocking stuffers to get us through this quiet period of the offseason.

One rumor which popped up yesterday was just too rich. It involved the arrival of former Manchester City keeper Joe Hart, who I swear to God must be at least 80 years old, to an unnamed MLS team which is purported to be Vancouver.

OK before we go any further, this is obviously BS. The Caps are dumb but they’re not THAT dumb, if you know what I mean. Wasting an international roster spot and paying out the rear end for a guy who is so far over the hill he can’t see the crest anymore is an MLS 1.0 move that is so stupid, no one with a pulse and functioning abilities of common sense would actually believe it.

But I did spend a lot of time yesterday thinking about this. No, not what Joe Hart would look like as Max Crepeau’s replacement. But rather how weird the MLS media landscape (and really the landscape for the entire soccer world) is.

As some of you may recall, my job IRL is as an honest-to-God journalist (yes some of us still exist). This means I probably am hyper sensitive to issues of media ethics. I also was raised on American sports journalism which, despite its faults, still holds a lot more of a moral compass than in other countries, where tabloids and shock headlines rule the day.

This is why, upon becoming an MLS fan in earnest, the media landscape so confounded me. On one hand, you have numerous institutions (many of whom I link to here) which do try and govern themselves in a traditional, professional way. Think the major newspapers and websites which lend coverage to soccer. They behave as journalists ought to, relying on traditional sourcing and ethical behaviors.

Then you start to enter a bit of a grey area. Because the MLS market is still rather niche, it does not generate the same kind of coverage as baseball or American football. Therefore you get a range of outlets trying to fill that void—including this site (full disclosure: I think we do a very good job in how we comport ourselves).

The problem is, many of the people operating in this void do not behave as journalists would. They do not have accountability from readers because often times their business is nothing more than a Twitter account. They don’t have to disclose sources or behave by rules governing sourcing (basically preventing you from just making sh*t up). And they don’t even really need to have any journalistic or writing talent, although many (including those who write for this site) do.

This is where you get a weird merger between the worlds of American sports journalism and the European ones. ITK accounts have cropped up, including the ones purporting to spread the Hart rumors. And MLS fans are now used to getting their transfer news from everywhere from a major newspaper to a Reddit account.

I’m not trying to disparage the many outlets, bloggers and reporters who, despite not working for a traditional media outelt, are extremely professional and hold themselves to account. They’re a crucial piece in ensuring MLS fans have content to consume. And many, like GlassCity, are not really journalists but well-connected fans who behave similarly to journalists and have proven themselves reliable over time.

But I’m worried that American soccer fans are so accustomed to parsing through crap, like the Hart rumor, that we don’t realize that it doesn’t have to be that way. Clicks and retweets drive trolls and by giving them attention, even if it is to say that their content isn’t worth the price of the paper its printed on, is validating their existence as a quote unquote journalist.

This is disappointing because it comes at a time when, as the league becomes filled with players with European and South American leagues, where media access is limited to put it mildly, the temptation for the league to restrict press access will grow. But robust coverage and interaction between the media and players is a tremendous win for fans, for the teams and for the league as a whole. Promoting transparency and access means that we, the fans, do not have to necessarily rely on the rando Twitter accounts and instead on the reporting of, say, Sam Rowan (shameless self promotion came a little early). End of story: let’s all give thanks to the many great journalists who work hard to cover our favorite teams. Without them, we’d be forced to read the MLS equivalent of the Daily Mirror and who wants that?

Onto the links!

Shameless Self Promotion

Hey we heard you like tactics talk! We’ve got tactics on tactics on tactics on the site, capped off with Caleb’s dive in to whether a 4-4-2 diamond might be the move

Best of the Rest

The Caps will be heading to Portland for their pre-season tournament, taking a break from their Pacific Rim Cup jaunts. Kinda boring but I’ll be so starved for soccer by then that I’ll take it

You’ve probably seen the sexual harassment report the Caps commissioned by now but if not, here are the highlights

Columbus Crew are making moves, making deals and ... putting together a sneaky good starting XI with the signing of Argentinian playmaker Lucas Zelaryan

Inter Miami (who still somehow don’t have a manager?!?) and Nashville SC are taking two very different tacts to building their inaugural rosters

Here’s your annual “MLS safe standing” article, this time from Forbes

No matter what holiday you celebrate, we hope you have a safe, happy and festive celebration. We’ll see you right back here on Friday :)