Good Friday morning Caps fans. It’s a case of Friday the 13th but we hope your day (and weekend) is anything but spooky.
Thursday marked the (un)official start of the Caps’ offseason, as team personnel met the media for their end-of-year debrief. It also brought with it the first tidbit of roster news: winger David Milinkovic will not be back in Vancouver next season.
The news will hardly come as a shock—sometime after the end of the Canadian round robin, David dropped off the face of the earth, only to be confirmed to have an injury before the run-in.
The hilarious thing is Marc dos Santos appeared to decide Milinkovic was not in his plans — but not until his purchase option from Hull City was automatically triggered, meaning the team is out $100,000 even though they wound up parting ways by mutual consent anyway.
Still it is a bit of a disappointment, as Milinkovic had a rather bright season, exceeding the expectations that I think most fans set for him after a pretty disastrous stint at Hull. His passing and work rate were quite good, although he was not the type of player that turned a game on its head but rather a piece that fit in nicely with some of the Caps’ other attackers.
The problem is the Caps do want more of a gamebreaking presence on the left wing and that just isn’t Milinkovic’s style. He exits the team with one goal and three assists, numbers which probably undersell how good he was this year but also show you he isn’t in the mold of even a guy like Cristian Dajome.
But there are some ways in which Milinkovic outperformed Dajome. Take key passes—Dajome had 25 key passes in 20 matches, whereas Milinkovic had 10 in 13, giving him a slightly higher per-game rate. Now, Dajome created a higher rate of chances writ large, in part due to his pace and shooting abilities, which given him a higher ceiling than Milinkovic in many ways. But I suspect people would not be in favor of dumping Dajome and, if given the same number of minutes, I think him and Milinkovic would have nearly identical stat lines.
His underlying numbers show more of the same.
So...was letting him go the right move? #VWFC pic.twitter.com/odhablyoGX— Eighty Six Forever (@86forever) November 13, 2020
I think you could look at that and construct a pretty good argument one way or the other for keeping Milinkovic around.
The truth is Milinkovic would be a perfect depth piece but he is at a point in his career where that is unappealing. Its unfortunate, however, because he is one of the few players on the roster that you could say is a good value given what was paid for him.
Here’s a fun exercise for you: imagine how many players would have a higher market value now than when they signed for the club. The list has to be pretty short and I would say that Milinkovic would be on their, especially if given a full 34-game season to show his stuff. He is one of the very few legitimate buy-low players the Caps have found something with in recent years and its a shame that it is ending in a manner that prevents them from capitalizing.
But the tricky thing is now this is going to be the baseline for whomever the Caps sign as a replacement — the pressure is on to find the right kind of piece, potentially one which is more comfortable finishing off chances (something Milinkovic struggled a bit with).
That’s especially true if they decide to use one of those young DP slots on the left wing side, meaning whichever youngster they pick up will need to hit the ground running in MLS (unless we continue with the Ali Adnan as a left winger experiment). They also have little depth on that side, another reason why it would have been nice, in theory, to keep Milinkovic around lest we wind up with Russell Teibert starting ... at left midfield ... again.
The Milinkovic Maneuver (TM) is the first domino to fall in what will be a busy offseason. Be sure to let us know what you want our coverage to look like! We have a great, loyal readership base and I think I speak for all the writers on the site when I say that we want to be doing work that is valuable and engaging for y’all. So what I guess I’m saying is ... call us, maybe?
Best of the Rest
The squad says they feel like they’re within striking distance of the playoffs after 2020
Plenty of looking ahead to the offseason in the most recent Third Sub podcast, well worth a listen for the tribute to Tony Waiters
More on Waiters’ passing here, with the former Caps coach hailed as “the single biggest influence on Canadian soccer”
In a well-known feeling for the Caps, Toronto FC are trying to piece together an MLS Cup run ... from Connecticut
Chicharito sucked this year but man did he sell a lot of jerseys