Good Friday morning Caps fans. In truly terrifying news, it is now August and summer is slowly slipping away from us (although this also means the MLS season is mercifully nearing an end).
First things first, a big thank you to the 37 of you who participated in the first annual Coffee with the Caps Trivia Extravaganza (TM). The median number of correct answers was roughly 6/14, making the quiz a little tougher than I initially anticipated but I’m hoping it was an enjoyable experience for all.
Without further ado, the reigning trivia champion is [insert drum roll here]
JD Waller! With an impressive 11/14 responses correct, he has earned the virtual trivia champion belt that he can now wear around the virtual Coffee with the Caps space. A hearty congratulations is in order.
Now onto other matters. The Caps announced Thursday that they were parting ways with winger Lucas Venuto after roughly six months, with the player expected to move to Santos FC in his native Brazil. The deal represents a hefty financial hit for the Caps, who spent an estimated 400K to bring him to Vancouver, plus a nominal amount getting sent to NYCFC for his discovery rights. The return on investment? $0.
On one hand I admire MDS’ desire to cut loose a player who clearly was not working out in Vancouver. This was something Robbo always struggled with I think and the rather decisive mutual termination is a signal that the Caps will likely be taking a similar no holds barred approach with other failed moves this offseason. An economist would say the transfer fee payed for Venuto is a sunk cost and that you should not consider recouping it a necessary condition for moving Venuto on, an approach MDS appeared to share here.
This, however, is a rather disturbing pattern for the Caps. There are a good many players that the Caps bring in on significant transfer fees and either let them go for little-to-no fee. Many on Whitecaps Twitter were discussing the ramifications on the club’s net spend and I would encourage you to follow our friend Caleb Wilkins for his interesting parallels between the Whitecaps’ struggle on this and other teams in global football which have lagged behind on net spend and suffered the on the pitch consequences.
But in fairness, the Whitecaps are not alone in having to take a bath on players. LAFC lost roughly half of their investment in Portugese midfielder Andre Horta when they shipped him back to Braga (where they bought him from, it must be noted). And Portland lost millions by mutually terminating Lucas Melano’s contract earlier this season.
The problem, of course, is that both of these clubs have spent or will spend millions more to replace these players. The Timbers clearly succeeded in this—they bought Brian Fernandez, who has almost single-handedly turned their season around. As much as we would like the Caps to do the same, it does not appear that they wish to at this point in time. That means the club needs to be more efficient.
An issue is that the club is not identifying good players, of course. But also it should be noted that Vancouver is not identifying valuable players. From a net spend standpoint, this distinction matters. Even when LAFC took a big hit on Horta, they were able to at least get a good chunk of their investment back because a young midfielder who has European experience will retain their value more than a winger who has washed out of the Spanish second division.
Jasser Khmeri is a good example of what the club should be doing—he is young, will likely soon be getting a national team call up and seems likely to retain his value such that the Caps can cut their losses and send him to a Ligue 2 team if things really don’t work out.
The problem is when you sign a bunch of guys like Venuto who hold interest only to teams which can’t afford to pay a transfer fee for him, have relatively high wages (and are this slugs around your neck) and were never really that valuable to begin with. The only course of action is what Vancouver did Thursday or waiting until the end of the season to not exercise a contract option.
Long story short, Vancouver needs to be thinking about net spend at least a little bit when identifying players to bring in. If you continue to take chances on players like Venuto, you will continue to back yourself into positions where you need the player to succeed in MLS or take a financial bath. That’s not sustainable if the Caps want to get back to putting a winning product on the field.
Onto the links
Shameless Self Promotion
Sam Rowan sits down for a great interview with the head of youth development Nick Dasovic on where the team’s prospects stand, why more aren’t getting time under MDS and bringing back the Thunder Caps. A must read
Best of the Rest
The Caps have sent highly rated homegrown keeper Chituru Odunze to Leicester City. A shame he won’t get to ply his trade in Vancouver but this is undeniably a great move for Odunze, who is one of the better prospects in the Caps’ system
The All Star Game sucked and MLS is looking at making changes (Liga MX all stars versus MLS all stars is the single most obvious move ever, yet the league has refused. The only conclusion I can reach is I should replace Don Garber #facts)
St. Louis is expected to be named as one of the MLS expansion cities, multiple outlets are reporting
Mike Petke is suspended for a boatload of games after confronting referees and using a homophobic slur after Real Salt Lake’s Leagues Cup defeat to Tigres. Who knew someone cared this much about Leagues Cup? (but also homophobia is bad and this is the right move)