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Coffee with the Caps, Friday March 29

To Larin or not to Larin, that is the question

Soccer: 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifyer-El Salvador at Canada Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Friday and club soccer returns today—life is good friends.

Our morning starts with reports out of Turkey that the Caps are swooping in on Beskitas striker and former Orlando City man Cyle Larin. The Canadian international was off to a hot start for the Turkish club but this season appearances have been hard to come by, as he’s started just once in the league this season and only made 20 appearances overall across all competitions.

Let’s set aside, for a moment, the fact that papers in Turkey are, well, unreliable to say the least (one only has to look as far as the perennial links between Larin’s teammate, Atiba Hutchinson and Vancouver to see this). Also there’s the fact that, due to the weird nature of MLS transfer negotiations, international tabloids have had a hard time figuring out which team was in for a given player lately. I think multiple outlets reported that Montreal were in for Alejandro Pozuelo—now a Toronto FC Designated Player.

We’ll operate under the assumption that this might have some validity (GlassCity says it does and that’s enough for me). The rumor just makes sense on a lot of levels: Larin fits the bill of the DP forward the Caps allegedly want. He’s young (23) and Canadian, which would help with marketability. And, frankly, he would be the best striker the Caps have had since Camilo Sanvezzo.

There is no doubt, however, that the alleged $2 million purchase price is a lot, given that the team already has Joaquim Ardaiz (who has yet to actually make a start) and Fredy Montero already under contract. Marc dos Santos seems to be hesitant to employ a two-striker system so the options that would presumably exist are:

a) offload Montero in the summer transfer window

b) end Ardaiz’s loan

c) a radical tactical transformation

d) playing Montero as more of a shadow striker

e) all of this is irrelevant because the rumor is BS

Given that we’re three games in to Ardaiz’s Vancouver career, I sincerely doubt management is looking to send him back to South America unless there are some massive character issues that are not being reported. MDS is not someone who seems likely to entertain a major tactical shift. And given Montero’s loyalty to Vancouver, I kind of doubt they’d be looking to ship him out so soon.

So we arrive at option d), something which I briefly broached once in a match recap and moved on from as probably not going to happen. But I think it makes sense: Montero’s hold up play would make him well suited to this kind of role. Heck, the dude has been dropping so deep in Vancouver’s first three matches, you could be forgiven for wondering if he was a central midfielder at times. So fashioning him into a 10 or shadow striker wouldn’t even be that much of a departure from what MDS has been telling Fredy to do this far.

I don’t think anyone would, in a vacuum, turn down this move. Larin scored 47 goals in 83 appearances for Orlando City and given the Caps’ offensive woes thus far, that kind of offensive production would be big. But we do not live in a vacuum. The move would likely have a major effect on at least one player under contract, perhaps more. And if we’re going to spend $2 million and have the end result be Fredy Montero playing at the 10 spot, why not spend that money on an actual, honest-to-god CAM that could help the strikers we have play more effectively?

The most likely outcome of the ones listed above? Option E. This could be agent posturing or a tabloid mix-up or something made up out of thin air to sell papers in Istanbul. I’m taking a wait and see approach on it. But hey, it gives us something fun to discuss doesn’t it?

Onto the links:

Shameless Self Promotion

Cascadia Cup action is back Saturday evening and Caleb Wilkins sits down with the good folks over at Sounder at Heart to get the low-down on one of the most formidable teams in MLS thus far.

Ali Adnan has arrived in Vancouver and we headed over to the training ground to figure out how his integration is going.

And we address a question as old as time itself: Was Erik Hurtado actually any good?

Best of the Rest

The Province dives into Adnan’s arrival and what his short stint in Vancouver could mean for the club.

MDS has a bit of a divergent take on the Cascadia Cup matches: treat them like any other match. To do other wise would be a “loser mentality.”

Seattle and Vancouver both have Korean stars and their meeting on Saturday will be historic

The U.S. and Canada have been drawn together in the Gold Cup group stages [ducks]

For Manchester United fans out there: Thank you for not stealing Mauricio Pochettino

That’s all for today—check back this weekend for our extensive match coverage!