Good Friday morning Caps fans, hope you’re getting all ginned up for the weekend. It’ll be a snowy/freezing rain-y/sleet-y one up in my neck of the woods but you take what you can get these days.
Just a couple short weeks ago I bemoaned the lack of transfer action and my oh my how the times have changed. Rumors and even some done deals have come to fruition quickly and, ahead of training camp starting next week, we are starting to see at least a basic shell of what the team will look like next season.
The latest announcement came yesterday, with the signing of left back Cristian Gutierrez on a free transfer. The Chilean-Canadian double citizen was last seen as a fringe player at Chilean giant Colo-Colo and was first reported by JJ Adams at The Province, with official confirmation coming later in the day.
Gutierrez has apparently been on the fence about converting to play for the National Team and the hope is this could give him the nudge to do so. He has a few caps with the Chilean U-20s but could be a useful rotation piece for the CMNT and having him in and among some of his compatriots on the backline (including his fellow French Canadian Max Crepeau) can’t hurt.
He also will be a rotation piece for the Caps, at least at the moment. In stands to reason that Gutierrez is a bit of a forward looking move ahead of the team selling on Ali Adnan in the summer, as many expect them to do. In the meantime, he provides some nice cover for Adnan, who had injury and suspension issues last season.
Cristián Gutiérrez's seasonal radar and heat map. pic.twitter.com/d3SHSdvZil— Peter Galindo (@GalindoPW) November 23, 2019
When he’s on the pitch Gutierrez appears to offer you a nice combination of defensive capabilities, a solid physical presence for a guy with a 5’7 frame and the potential to bomb forward and swing in a cross. He isn’t quite the game changer that Adnan is but he won’t cost as much either and, given his Canadian citizenship, would presumably not take up a precious international spot.
It also underscores a welcome trend that is also pretty funny to me, if only because I remember fondly the days when the chief critique of Whitecaps Twitter (TM) is that they didn’t sign enough Canadian players.
Well, I wonder where those fans are now, because the three major signings to date from the Caps this offseason involve Canadian players (Cavallini, Rapuso and now Gutierrez). That’s in addition to the significant development from Theo Bair, Derek Cornelius and Max Crepeau in the last year, as well as the decision to retain Tousaint Ricketts. In fact, 11 members of the admittedly bare-bones roster are Canadian. This will likely change when guys like Cristian Dajome are signed up but its still pretty cool.
New CEO Mark Pannes has even gone on the record saying he wants half of the CMNT to be current or former Whitecaps by 2026 which is a real statement of intent. It also would help the Caps stand out from their Montreal and Toronto counterparts, with the Reds attempting to position themselves as a big-spending, brand-name team and Montreal striking out and whiffing on some of their more high-profile efforts to groom players for the national team (Ballou Tabla comes to mind).
And at a time when fan engagement is lacking, that kind of talk can’t hurt, right? Although it seems like most fans have transitioned from “Sign more Canadians FFS!” to “Sign more players who don’t suck regardless of nationality FFS!” With any luck, the Caps are starting to do both.
Onto the links...
Shameless Self Promotion
Even though Caleb Wilkins has yet to be able to use his Dajome breakdown, he was kind enough to instead take a deeper look at what went wrong with Jon Erice in Vancouver, as the Spaniard heads back to his native country after having his contract terminated
Best of the Rest
A nice story on Jasser Khmiri, who is poised for a big season after a 2019 he admits he would like to forget
The Caps are linked (by GlassCity no less) to bringing in midfielder Aboubacar Sissoko on trial with the squad. He’s currently under contract with HFX Wanderers but has an out clause for an MLS offer
Carl Robinson is linked with the Newcastle Jets job in Australia’s A League. Wonder how they like parking the bus down under, eh?
In a bit of an unusual move, the Rapids have loaned in a DP—Danish forward Younes Namli from Krasnodar in Russia
In what the biggest move made my the U.S. Senate in recent days, the body officially congratulated the Seattle Sounders on their MLS Cup victory