Good Monday morning Caps fans, hope you all are settling in for the week ahead and perhaps even sprinkling in some fall activities to spruce up your days.
It was certainly a case of one step forward, two steps back Saturday night in Seattle. A bright first half was ruined by a dismal second and the Caps’ appear to have fallen back to earth after a brief fling with the playoffs a couple weeks ago.
The midfield was again one of the main culprits holding the team back—MDS mysteriously went for Andy Rose, who has been deputized at centerback in every appearance this season, rather than Michael Baldisimo and it showed. Leonard Owusu was out with a knock, meaning it was just Rose and Janio Bikel, who was sent off in the second half, in the center of the park and the pairing just weren’t good enough.
MDS certainly took note, calling on the midfield unit to do better in his postmatch interview.
“But I think what we need to do is a problem that we have for a while, that is on the ball, we need to make sure that we have enough midfielders with personality to play,” MDS said. “We have to find that, we have to make sure that we get midfielders with personality to play and give us the opportunity to have more of the ball and to breathe more in the right moments with the ball, and I think that it’s going to be tough to grow there this season.”
Look, he’s right. We’ve written about this so many times on this website. The struggles in midfield have readily apparent as long as we all can remember.
But ... MDS’ comments are not likely to be well received by, well, his midfielders. I’m all for accountability and trying to get the most out of players. I’m a massive Tottenham fan as well and these remarks are straight out of the playbook of Jose Mourinho in trying to get more out of his players.
The tactic works, however, when you have a lot of trophies in your cabinet. MDS has exactly zero. The tactic also works when you’re building towards something, when you have the trust of your players. One would doubt that the locker room is feeling a whole lot of goodwill towards the skipper anyway and calling out players publicly is not going to help.
Also doesn’t the manager bear a bit of the blame for what we saw in midfield Saturday? Yes Owusu has a knock, as does Russell Teibert. But going with Andy Rose, who has not played in the position since last season, over Baldisimo, who has been in good form, is puzzling and seemed almost to be setting Rose up for failure, after looking solid enough as a CB.
MDS is probably out the door at seasons end so this is all sort of academic. But he can’t lose the locker room on his way out. This team lacks the quality to compete and is one turn away from switching off entirely, which would lead to more humiliations like we saw against LAFC. The fans deserve a veneer of respectability to end the season on. Given all the losing that the team has endured under MDS’ reign, comments like he made Saturday seem like he’s just pushing his luck in the dressing room.
Bikel’s forthcoming suspension will not make things any easier and I’m guessing it means a Baldisimo-Rose pairing in midfield Wednesday night against San Jose. Whether that means better midfield play is anyone’s guess—Baldi will certainly make things better but he can’t do everything on his own.
Maybe it means we see Patrick Metcalfe, who looked better Saturday night, get a start? Rose looks better when he has two compatriots in midfield alongside him and might as well get some young’uns some time, right?
San Jose are not world beaters. The goal for the Caps’ midfield has to be not to make them look like 2010 FC Barcelona. The first half from Saturday shows the potential that is there for the whole team, led by the midfield. The key is to get 90 minutes of that.
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