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Coffee with the Caps

Now, for something a little different...

Soccer: 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup-Jamaica at Canada Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday everybody. The weekend (and the Caps!) are almost back. But what is also around the corner is the international break. Or, more accurately for MLS teams, the international “break.” The league kinda sorta takes a break, except for the half dozen teams who will play next week.

The Caps will not be in action a week from tomorrow but several of their players will be. Five Vancouver players will be in the 23-man roster for Canada’s Nations League showdown with French Guiana. It also marks the first time former Caps David Edgar and some guy named Alphonso Davies return to BC Place. And if that intrigue wasn’t enough, a spot in the Gold Cup and the top tier of the Nations League are at stake if Canada wins (or so I am told; because they started this competition while I was living in an internet-less African country, I only have a rough idea of how it works :) ).

But let us quickly divert our attention to a report that popped up early this week stating that CONCACAF and CONMEBOL are considering combining their World Cup qualifying processes. The number of spots allocated to teams would presumably also be merged; CONMEBOL currently has four automatic WC berths and CONCACAF has three, with both confederations also having a play-off spot.

Now the outlet doing this reporting is Marca, the notoriously unreliable Spanish tabloid, meaning it almost certainly isn’t true. But let’s say for the sake of argument that it is because it caught my eye for a few reasons. Firstly because at face value this is a horrid deal for CONCACAF, to the point that I’m confused as to why they would consider it. Assuming seven World Cup berths were available, it would not be outside the realm of possibility that Mexico would be the only CONCACAF nation to qualify (I really want to say the USA would join them but a certain night in Trinidad has scarred me too much to do that).

Now, those with a sharp memory probably would point out that the World Cup is expanding because money talks more soccer is good. This would mean more spots would be allocated to both confederations. This would stand to benefit a country like Canada, which is clearly on the rise but is not quite on the level where an appearance in the Hexagon is yet in the cards. Merging the qualifying processes would deprive some of the middling CONCACAF teams a shot at qualifying for the World Cup.

Now such a move would undoubtedly mean more money, something always quick to draw the attention of international soccer executives. It also would provide some consistently strong competition for teams used to playing, say, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in World Cup Qualifying. And it could pave the way for combined competitions ranging from a new look Copa America to the Copa Libertadores including CONCACAF teams, both ideas which are seemingly constantly being explored. Given the changes afoot in global soccer, some or all of these ideas seem like they will inevitably come to fruition—it just remains to be seen whether that will benefit CONCACAF sides.

Anyway, thanks for indulging my thought experimenting. Onto the links...

Shameless Self Promotion

Caleb Wilkins wrote a fantastically in-depth review of the first two games of the MDS era, replete with more stats than you can shake a stick at. A must read.

While you’re at it, go have a guess as to what the Caps’ starting XI will look like Saturday afternoon against Houston.

The Best of the Rest

A great look from Farhan Devji at what Erik Godoy has offered the Caps in the first two games.

Paul Tenorio takes a look at what MLS sides need to do to be more competitive in continental play.

The Chicago Fire (yes, you read that right) splashed some cash to reel in former Atleti midfielder Nicolas Gaitan on a TAM deal.

There will be no Friends reunion and I am sad

Have a great weekend everybody and let’s get a win Saturday, shall we?