The Vancouver Whitecaps have only two matches left in this unforgettable 2019 season – this Sunday at LA Galaxy and then home to Real Salt Lake to close out the season on October 6th. Following the last second draw to Columbus Crew on Saturday, Tres_Tristes_Tigres posed the question “What is the goal of the final few matches?”.
It was a good question to ask as it is unclear what the goal is for the remainder of the season. The Caps have long been out of the playoff picture, but have had the opportunity to play spoiler, dashing the playoff hopes of Dynamo and Crew fans. Outside of sharing the misery of missed playoffs with other teams, there has really been no purpose behind the last few matches. Marc Dos Santos has continued to trot out the same 11 to 14 players, with the rest remaining glued to the bench or out of the 18 entirely.
MDS has stated recently that he already has a good idea of who will be departing this off-season and who will be staying. Given the few players that are seeing minutes this season, it is not difficult to identify who that group likely is. As Ardaiz has not been seen in months and Lass Bangoura has only played 23 minutes since late July, it is unlikely that either will be around next season. Captain to start the season Jon Erice has only played 1.5 matches (90, 45) since late July as well, but his situation is a little more difficult as he is signed for next season. Likewise, Fredy Montero, who has expressed his commitment to the club and his contract for next season. However, fans can’t be too excited at relying on the largely ineffective Montero or having his massive, designated player, salary be a late-game substitute. This leads to the other problem that the Caps face for next season.
Vancouver has preached the signing of reinforcements this off-season, however, it is unclear how they will fit into the squad. Marc Dos Santos did leave himself some flexibility by having several loans -Ardaiz, Bangoura, Godoy- but he also has some longer contracts sitting around – Erice, Montero, PC, Rose. His three designated player slots are full with Adnan, In-Beom, and Montero. The first two are not going anywhere, while Montero is a difficult case. There is no reason to suspect that he will ever see a Caps uniform again, but don’t forget that Anthony Blondell is still one of their players as well. Therefore, it is unclear how MDS plans to fill out the rest of his lineup, with limited cap space.
Whether Dos Santos has determined who of his regulars are staying or going, there needs to be some purpose to the last few matches of the season. Given some of the roster situations, there must be some players that may need to play a role next season and it might be a good idea to see what they can offer now. In addition, there are plenty of young players that could really benefit from a game against Zlatan or Real Salt Lake.
Michael Baldisimo, Simon Colyn, Brett Levis, Georges Mukumbilwa have seen almost ZERO minutes combined this season, with only Theo Bair getting minutes from the young players on the Caps roster. Maybe these last few games is a good opportunity, in a no pressure situation, to let these youngsters play. Or, we can continue to see depth players that are unlikely (and in some cases hopefully) to have much of an impact on the club next season.
What is the goal to end this season?