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Coffee with the Caps, Friday June 28

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at FC Dallas Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Good Friday morning Caps fans. Sorry for the relatively bare-bones CWTC we’ve had of late—it has been an unfortunately busy week of my day job (covering the Pennsylvania General Assembly, if anyone is curious).

But the Caps are back in action Saturday after salvaging a well-earned point Wednesday against FC Dallas, thanks to a Lucas Venuto stoppage time equalizer.

As always, they will be relying on In-Beom Hwang, who raised some eyebrows in Vancouver earlier this week by confirming what many of us already knew: he doesn’t really want to be here.

In a Korean media interview, Hwang said (thanks be to Google translate):

“Truthfully, I felt many regrets... Many of my fans know that there was somewhere I wanted to go, and at the time my fans and I felt regretful. It’s a situation that happened, and as a professional player, the right mindset to have is to find a way of making this situation better. I know that I am lacking, but I want to be a better player to go where I dreamed of playing, and for my fans.”

This squares with prior reporting from an English language Korean soccer outlet which basically said that a rogue agent derailed a potential transfer to Hamburg (In-Beom’s preferred destination) to basically enrich himself.

The result? In-Beom and his family were understandably furious but, for whatever reason (the article speculates loyalty to his boyhood club, Daejeon Citizen), he left anyway.

Even though the new revelations in the most recent interview didn’t really surprise me, it did underscore how good a servant Hwang has been to the club. While it is obviously in his best interest to perform at the highest level possible and thus secure his desired move to Europe, I think he has been more professional in how he has done it.

Think about if you had a similar kerfuffle in your professional life, how would you have handled it? From my perspective, I would never have guessed there was the level of turmoil surrounding Hwang’s move to Vancouver aside from the outside reporting. As underscored by his budding bromance with Ali Adnan, he appears to have integrated well into the squad and cosmopolitan Vancouver.

An interview with ESPN’s Noah Davis further emphasizes this:

“I want to be a remembered player, someone who fans remember and miss,” he says through a translator at a Korean restaurant in downtown Vancouver. “That’s always been my goal, and that’s never going to change.”

And, on some level, I think a move to MLS has been better than a move to Germany for Hwang, who has been a solid performer for the Caps but has not lit the world on fire like, say, a Miguel Almiron. This isn’t bad! One also needed to factor in the full club and international schedule he had before joining Vancouver.

But those factors, make the more demanding level of play in the Bundesliga or 2. Bundesliga a risk, compared with the relatively friendlier confines of Vancouver. If the Caps are able to bring in another playmaker to relieve the pressure currently piled upon Hwang, I have no doubt he will continue to improve. That will, of course, bring about a move to a European club—potentially even a more prestigious one than Hamburg.

Onto the links

Shameless Self Promotion

We wrap up the drama in Frisco here, while Ian kindly filled in for me on report card duty. And check back later today for a preview of Saturday’s Seattle match.

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