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Coffee with the Caps, Monday April 15

VAR-d again

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Chicago Fire Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Another Monday, another week that was defined by questionable officiating.

Here at Coffee with the Caps, we like to focus on the positive so I thought I’d devote some column inches to discussing an unexpected (for me anyway) surprise to start the year: Maxime Crepeau.

Crepeau put in his finest performance to date thus far, a stellar five-save showing that was only spoiled by a very very well placed penalty from Nemanja Nicolic.

One has to remember that Crepeau was far from the sure-fire starter when this season began. Zac MacMath was pegged by many to be the likely first choice number 1, given his experience as an MLS starter. Even when Crepeau was tapped as the starter on opening day, many (myself included) predicted a timeshare between the two for much of the season.

But as AtlantisB pointed out in his report card (which you should read immediately after this), such discussion was quickly rendered moot. Crepeau has not been perfect (I still think he can be too aggressive to come out) but he is head and shoulders better than Brian Rowe (sorry mate) and Stefan Marinovic (who is the backup keeper at Bristol City, something I learned in researching this piece).

Even Crepeau’s distribution (a concern of mine through the early stages of the season) has slowely improved. I mean, heck, take a look at this from Friday:

Lets compare how Marinovic started last season with Crepeau’s performances through the first six matches of 2019.

Marinovic gave up nine goals through the first six matches of 2018 (including the calamitous 4-1 loss to Atlanta United). Crepeau, meanwhile, has allowed 10. I don’t find that comparison horrible given the struggles his defense had had settling in in front of him this season.

But the real tale of the tape comes in comparing save totals.

Marinovic made 10 saves in those games, with the bulk of them coming in the Caps’ road win against the Houston Dynamo. Crepeau has made 18, an average of three per match, including six against Real Salt Lake (what should have been a result absent bad VAR-ing) and five against Chicago (which was a result, and would have been a win absent bad VAR-ing).

Basically, Crepeau has been called upon much more than Marinovic was and has stopped more of those shots.

The real value in Crepeau, however, lies elsewhere. He’s cheap—we won’t know the exact cap hit until salary details are unveiled later this year but I cannot imagine his contract caries a significant hit for the club. He also is a domestic player, something that was not true of either Marinovic or Ousted, and both of those internationals were substantially more expensive.

The key to success in MLS from a goalkeeping standpoint has long been find an undervalued, domestic goalkeeper and ride them as far as they will take you. I will not begrudge David Ousted his success in Vancouver; when he was at his peak he was legitimately on the shortlist for best shot stopper in the league.

But the problem with those types of players is they eventually want to be paid as such, and you could argue that Ousted contract hurt the Caps later when his performance began to decline. Rolling with Crepeau may not be the sexiest move but it frees up cap space and an international roster spot that can be allocated to shoring up what has become a thoroughly uninspiring midfield.

And if he can continue to put up performances like he did Friday, Crepeau will be worth his weight in gold (plus he ups the Caps’ French-Canadian quotient, which I enjoy as a French speaker).

Now, onto the links:

Shameless Self Promotion

We have all the deets on Friday’s match: Jitsuo gives you the tale of the tape if you missed an ... interesting match. And the aforementioned AtlantisB runs down his grades for the performance.

Best of the Rest

JJ Adams chats with the players on a way forward from Friday’s disappointment

A good look at how Seattle has started so hot, which should make us all feel better about our clean sheet against the Sounders

Thrilled to welcome All for XI to the SB Nation family, where you can find all the women’s soccer news you need ahead of the NWSL season and World Cup this summer. The staff over there breaks down what to expect from the NWSL this season, which began Saturday.

And just remember everybody—we may suck, but at least Portland sucks a little bit more

Have a lovely week y’all