Good Friday morning Caps fans, hope you have your Halloween costumes all picked out and ready to go for tomorrow’s (socially distant) festivities.
Its also a potentially scary weekend for Vancouver, who take on Portland in a match that is either a home match or an away match depending on how you look at it. Either way, it is an important game for the potential playoff hopes of the side, with a result a potentially decisive boost to the Caps’ playoff chances.
That’s because the decision came down from MLS yesterday that confirmed what most of us already figured: the final standings will be decided by points-per-game because several teams (notably the Colorado Rapids and teams they were supposed to play) will not be able to see out a full compliment of games due to COVID-19.
For all of you who have your abacus handy, that means that the Rapids would slide by the Caps into the final playoff spot in the west, despite playing five fewer matches. Basically the Caps would need to win out and hope Colorado draws or worse in its remaining three matches to get in.
No one should be surprised by this—it is the only feasible option available to the league and it is provided for in the rules (and in fact was used for the final standings in 2001 due to 9/11).
And it sucks—the Rapids are more or less being rewarded for blowing the COVID-19 protocols, while Vancouver has done everything right. Hell, they’ve even been sequestered in a hotel in another country to make this season work—a season where they’ve been playing two matches a week, more or less, for the past month-plus.
Frankly though, if the Caps miss the playoffs due to a couple tenths of a point, well they only have themselves to blame. There were numerous chances to get results that they did not take (see: LA Galaxy a couple weeks back). Getting in the playoffs would be like qualifying for the MLS is Back knockout stages: it was partly down to having the quality taking chances at the right time and partly a smash-and-grab based purely on dumb luck.
Now, don’t get me wrong—I would love to qualify for the playoffs. I think you can make an argument that, given everything this team has dealt with this season, it has shown more mental toughness and quality than we’ve seen in the last couple of years (that is admittedly an extremely low bar). Does that in and of itself merit a playoff spot, however? No, of course not.
The truth of the matter is the Caps’ universe will not shift on its axis one way or another depending on whether it advances to the postseason. Change is needed within the organization, a bevy of new players are needed to be added and some need to be sold. The team needs a more defined tactical identity and it needs that identity to be something that doesn’t involve sitting on its heels for 75 percent of its matches.
Sam Rowan laid this all out in a well-done piece yesterday. He effectively argues that the Seattle match was a microcosm for what we’ve seen this season (and in recent seasons, I would argue). And, at the end of the day, a playoff berth would likely obscure the real issues that exist, including that lack of tactical identity mentioned above and a real allergy to giving young players meaningful minutes unless absolutely necessary.
Don’t get me wrong—I’ll be rooting for the team to win its next to matches and qualify. I miss having the Caps be relevent past decision day and if MDS sends his boys out with the right mindset then the team could make us proud, as I would say they did in Orlando. Just as long as no one within the organization makes a postseason trip out to be a balm that heals all the ailments that have existed for years, we gucci.
Shameless Self Promotion
Best of the Rest
A bright spot: Ali Adnan’s free kick banger against San Jose captured MLS goal of the week. Another one for the trophy cabinet, eh?
LA Galaxy have canned Guillermo Barros Schelotto after a clunker of a season
An interesting story on the life, and death, of Chivas USA (at least it could be worse Caps fans!)
Tough sledding right now for Jonathan David, who missed a penalty in Lille’s 2-2 draw with Celtic and failed to snap his goal scoring duck