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Coffee with the Caps, Monday January 20

Guess who’s back, back again?

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MLS: Real Salt Lake at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday Training Camp Monday folks, as the long, slow road back to the start of the season officially begins today.

I have to say it is rejuvenating to have the players back in formal action—MLS has a weirdly long offseason, especially for teams who miss the players (raises hand). Even in the team’s beleaguered state, it will still be a sight for sore eyes to see pictures from training today.

The quality of the team that will be hitting the training pitch on Monday, however, is unlikely to quell the legions of fans who are concerned about how The Rebuild Part 2: Electric Boogaloo is going down.

Our staffers have unofficially set today as the “It is okay to begin worrying” day and, well, I think it is more than fair to be a little worried. Only a handful of bona fide signings have been made, leaving the team a little thin. While it is likely that more reinforcements are on the way, they’ve been delayed by a) the CBA negotiations, B) our lack of scouting infrastructure, C) our general incompetence, D) good midfielders just don’t want to move in January or E) all of the above. No matter what the reason is, the time frame will leave them with a less-than-ideal period to bed in.

If forced so slap a grade on that roster in comparison to last year, I would be pressed to go with somewhere in the C-range. The crop of forwards is undeniably better and defense remains a pretty strong bunch (will only get stronger once Erik Godoy is brought back in and if right back Claudio Winck to Vancouver becomes a thing).

But the midfield is still just a dumpster fire is is unclear whether any of the shiny new forwards will get the support they need to succeed. At the moment, one or probably even both of Andy Rose/Russell Teibert is going to be starting and you know what they say about the definition of insanity, right? (Hint: it isn’t playing Andy Rose at CM).

You have to think management knows this, right? ... right?

An area in which the Caps did do a much better job is bringing in some relatively high-caliber trialists to camp. I’m not sure why more teams don’t take punts like this in MLS—the risk is basically nil and, on the off-chance you hit upon an absolute diamond in the rough, you look like a genius. It is especially important for a team like Vancouver who lacks a USL team to stash these kinds of player—this is basically their best shot for getting a feel what an Aboubacar Sissoko or Amer Didic will look like on their roster.

I mention Sissoko and Didic because those are the two players I’m most excited to track—both appear to have potential to be that diamond in the rough kind of asset that would be a boon for the rebuild. Now, expecting Sissoko to be the second coming of Mark-Anthony Kaye (which I’ve seen some people stating) might be a bit much. But it would not at all surprise me to see him kept around on a league-minimum deal (his HFX Wanderers contract reportedly includes an out for an MLS offer), especially given the state of the roster at the moment.

Rodrigo Da Costa, formerly of USL’s FC Tulsa, also looks a strong product. I’ve watched him a bit in USL and he was really quite good as an advanced midfielder, nabbing nine goals, 13 assists in a shade under 3,000 minutes.

At the end of the day, this isn’t the Caps shopping at the bargain bin but rather doing their due diligence on some pretty intriguing players who are worth a look in training and in some of the early friendlies. If the Caps elect to keep one or two of them around, they should fairly seamlessly slide into the roster as depth pieces. If it doesn’t work out, no harm, no foul.

How are you all feeling with camp opening today? Is the sky falling? Are you purposefully choosing to ignore all the red flags because you’re happy MLS is back (aka me)? Or are we being too doom and gloom? Let us know in the comments.

In the meantime, it could be worse friends. Our team could be sponsored by a human rights abuser:

Onto the links...

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