It is with great regret that I inform you it is Monday morning Caps fans, with even the promise that today is the first day of fall not enough to redeem the sheer Monday-ness of it all.
The icky Monday feeling is compounded by the icky feeling of an abject performance Saturday against the Columbus Crew in a match that felt exactly like what it was: one between two teams without a ton to play for. It is true that Caleb Porter’s men had a sliver of playoff hope to cling to, which was surely shattered when Fredy Montero pulled an equalizer out of his tailpipe on the stroke of full time.
Caps Twitter (myself included) was thoroughly frustrated by the match and it wasn’t because it was boring (I mean we suffered through Robbo-ball for chrissakes), nor was it because the attendance was woeful (Saturday afternoon matches and bad teams do not mix).
No, the match was a disaster mainly because everyone on the field so clearly did not give a sh*t. It didn’t start that way—the Caps actually started out on the front foot—but that was derailed pretty quickly when Zac MacMath conceded a penalty midway through the half.
The problem, which ultimately led to the Caps seemingly basically uninterested in going for a tying goal in the second half, seems really to stem from Marc dos Santos’ public statements that he has a pretty good idea who will be sticking around in Vancouver as Rebuild Part Two: Electric Boogaloo kicks off and who will be playing elsewhere in MLS/CPL/the Bosnian second division (I’d be good with shipping Andy Rose off to the last one).
While I always appreciate MDS’ directness with the media, he kind of played himself here. Basically the only motivating factor left for these players is competing for a spot in the squad next year (or putting yourself in the shop window for a move elsewhere). But there are really only a handful of players left whose fate does not seem certain. Montero, Scott Sutter and (unfortunately) Andy Rose fall into that category but the rest of the players who were in the 18 on Saturday will either be staying in Vancouver (Theo Bair, Derek Cornelius, etc.) or not (Tosaint Ricketts, Jon Erice, Lass Bangoura and company).
This unfortunate fact means that we will likely be in for a few more moments where guys don’t track back, press or push the envelop for an equalizing or winning goal. There just aren’t really any other factors that the coaching staff can use to get these guys to play in the style they want them to for 90 minutes. Yeah pride is always a factor but now that it is assured the Caps will not be holding the wooden spoon at season’s end, even that may not drive the players in the way you’d expect.
I’m not sure how much this should be placed on MDS, much as I’m still trying to decide what blame he should hold in this season going sideways. But it sounds like MDS is still trying to implement his desired play style in training and I can’t imagine his halftime team talks are of the “you’ve been unlucky” (any Football Manager fans out there?) variety. Saturday’s match does really make you, as a fan, want some sort of decisive action from the manager—whether that is benching the most lackluster or players or simply given the club’s most promising academy talent some minutes as subs. I suspect neither of these will happen, which is fine on some level—I’m pretty done with this season as, I suspect, are you all.
The fact of the matter is that everyone, player, coach and fan, is ready for this season to be over. This isn’t exactly breaking news but Saturday’s match underscored that, unfortunately, that end can’t come soon enough.
Onto the links...
Shameless Self Promotion
We have plenty of #takes in reaction to Saturday’s match, in both recap and report card form. Caleb Wilkins breaks down weirdly glowing comments MDS had about Gyasi Zardes (remember when Vancouver was linked to him? good times!) and why the Caps should look for another striker type this offseason.
Best of the Rest
Manuel Veth questions (correctly so) whether Ali Adnan is living up to his billing as a DP
MLS is trying to broker an end to the ongoing political drama between supporters in Seattle and Portland and their respective clubs
An interesting story from the always engaging Kevin Baxter on how MLS clubs get their international stars acclimated to the league
And a profile of Bojan Krkic and how he found his way from being a Barcelona wonderkid to MLS. Underscores why he is a model for potential Whitecaps signings
Game of Thrones cleaned up at the Emmys last night and I still haven’t seen it lol whoops