It’s Monday Caps fans, with both Vancouver earning a result and Canada and the U.S. earning passage to the next round of the Gold Cup. Not bad all in all.
The Caps’ 2-2 draw against the Rapids was frustrating given that a some first half defensive sloppiness sunk what was otherwise a strong performance. The game was perhaps the clearest indication yet of how MDS wants to play: lots of possession+high press=lots of chances. Converting those chances is another matter entirely but it was good to see the desires style of play begin to shine through.
One of the stars of the match was again Ali Adnan, who was the only offensive engine in the less-than-heady first half and remained solid (though not flawless) in the second half. There are now real doubts about whether the Iraqi international (although perhaps not for long after a bizarre age fraud scandal has emerged) will remain in Vancouver after his loan expires at the end of the month.
This was seemingly inevitable because Whitecaps fans can’t have nice things. MDS was typically coy about the matter when asked after the match:
“If I was Harry Potter I would tell you, or Houdini or something like that, but I’m not. I can’t read the future, sorry. I’m human like you guys.”
Aside from the mental image of MDS in a magician’s cape, this doesn’t tell us much. That being said, there appears to be more than a hint of frustration here. This could either come from being continually asked the same question or, more likely, the fact that negotiations are not going as expected.
Updates have been hard to come by but the scuttlebut seems to be that Udinese is starting to come around to the realization that Adnan is a good player who could either help them not be crap in Séria A or be flipped for a heftier transfer fee in Europe. Obviously if this is the case, there’s not much the Vancouver front office can do.
It is painfully obvious how good Adnan is. But I took a second to draw some stats to illustrate how good and to implore the front office that a permenant deal here is imperative if there’s any room to make it happen.
Ranking Adnan against all other fullbacks (right or left), he ranks second in total shots and shots on target. This is in part due to the outsized role he has been asked to play in the offense but also underscores the value he has to the team. This would be even more pronounced were MDS to employ him as a fullback full time—keeping Adnan around would give the Caps tactical flexibility as they grow and change with MDS’ system.
Looking at other stats, Adnan is 14th in key passes and 11th in combined expected assists and expected goals. This might not seem impressive (in one of those categories he trails Brek Shea) but keep in mind he has played fewer games than most of those other players, not even accounting for an abrupt, unexpected midseasion transition to an unfamiliar country.
Again, none of this surprises any of you. But it underscores the fact that this is not just a big deal but rather a franchise altering deal. Having an elite fullback is something very few MLS sides possess and Vancouver locking one down would represent a major leg up on the competition. Adnan is not perfecting; his defense can be meh, he still has an odd habit of getting blown by mediocre players and he can be overconfident at times.
But keeping him around would mean the difference between being another solid move or two away from becoming the team MDS has promised to going more or less back to the drawing board. Vancouver doesn’t hold all the cards here; unlike a lot of other past decisions, this one won’t necessarily be down to management incompetence if it doesn’t pan out. But if more money can get the deal across the line, the purse strings must be loosened, not just to keep Adnan in Vancouver but to keep the project on track.
Now onto the links
Shameless Self Promotion
Best of the Rest
The Canucks had an ... interesting draft to say the least on Friday
As mentioned above, Canada blew by Cuba 7-0 to earn themselves a date with the winner of Costa Rica/Haïti. It has some asking the question: are they legit contenders?
And the US also dispatched Trinidad and Tobago (a couple years too late, I might add) to book a place in the knockout stages, while showing some real improvement which I’m sure will be dashed very quickly
Rafa Benitez is out at Newcastle and given the stinginess of Mike Ashley I’m shocked it took this long