Good Monday morning Caps fans, hope your weekend went swimmingly and you are ready to face the week ahead.
The Caps cruised through their final test of the season, and even though said challenge was a thoroughly disinterested, 10-man LA Galaxy side it was still nice to see the team end strong to earn a final three points. The team also makes history by not drawing at all this season and, well, that was surely what we all had in mind when the ownership was making bold proclamations about this team’s future.
The official player awards were distributed last week but, frankly, we didn’t think very much of them. While Coffee with the Caps may be a democracy, I think its fair that we take another stab at reversing the will of the people and dolling out some hardware of our own.
This was a tough season to give out awards for. There were few clear cut best players so I got a little creative. See what you think—as always, debate in the comments is encouraged.
Player of the Year: Michael Baldisimo
So this was objectively the hardest award to give out because, well, there is no easy answer. Lucas Cavallini bagged the most goals and while he was certainly an effective forward, he also was hamstrung by the lack of service. Ali Adnan won the real life fan vote and it was probably his most effective season in Vancouver but didn’t feel like it at the same time.
Thus I took a bit more of a novel approach to pick a guy who didn’t even play half the season. But when he did start playing a part, whoa boy, did Baldisimo ever play a big one. He was a revelation exactly where the Caps needed it the most: central midfield.
He misses out today due to yellow card accumulation but on a per 90 basis Michael Baldisimo plays more passes into the opposition 3rd than today's starting CMs combined #VWFC— Caleb Wilkins (@wilkins_caleb24) November 8, 2020
To put it simply, no one else at the position can do what Baldi does. The fact that he was basically discovered by Marc dos Santos as a last resort is deeply ironic given how much Russell Teibert and Leonard Owusu played, even after Baldi started showing what he could do.
Now, the youngster still needs a lot of refining, which is an odd statement to say about the guy that I just gave player of the year to. His defensive skills still need to come along and MDS is still not starting him every game (although he should be).
But from his debut banger to the numerous goals he set up indirectly due to intelligent, pinpoint passing, it is clear that Baldi offers something different. His emergence is maybe the biggest reason that Caps fans should have hope—his development brings the midfield further along than they have been in awhile. For that reason alone, he should be player of the year.
Honorable mention: Erik Godoy was a similar player to Baldi: didn’t start the season but will be a core piece going forward. And Cavallini, despite a slow start, showed that he will be among the best strikers in the league ... if the Caps can get him even a league-average amount of service.
Young Player of the Year (Non-Baldisimo Edition): Thomas Hasal
So Baldisimo winning this would be a bit redundant and where’s the fun in that? Nonetheless, Hasal makes an obviously strong case for winning this, even as his season came to a rather abrupt ending due to injury.
It is ironic because it was injury and desperation which led to him getting minutes at all but his youthful exuberance quickly endeared him to fans across the league. His eight-save effort against Sporting Kansas City will go down in club lore and the guy held his own despite a defense which held him out to dry repeatedly.
The irony, of course, is that Hasal’s future trajectory is not immediately clear. Obviously he will be around in some form but there is talk a loan move might be in order given that he is unlikely to supplant Max Crepeau. Even still, it is rare the Caps can genuinely say they are well-stocked at a given position. I don’t think Hasal is that far off from being a league-average stopper already and clearly has room to grow. Combine that with Crepeau and Evan Bush and the Caps have three legit number 1s. Wish they had that kind of depth elsewhere!
New Player of the Year: Cristian Dajome
I wanted to give this to Milinkovic, if only because I think he is worth keeping around next year and the front office, in their enduring wisdom, appears to be going a different direction.
But for all of those who thought Dajome would be just another in the long line of wingers who didn’t pan out (Michaell Chirinos come on down!), he offered a great deal more than that.
Now, his decision making let him down a bit at times and he still favors taking shots from outside the box more than any player on a team which creates the fewest chances in the league probably should.
But Dajome’s work rate is top notch, among the best on the team. He plays a smart ball, knows which runs to make (a basic feat not managed by, say, Lucas Venuto) and generally linked up well with Fredy Montero and Cava. Three goals, including the one that iced the Caps’ progression in MLS is Back, is a solid year in my book and Dajome is the type of player which will grow in leaps in bounds if the team can find a legit number 10. Now with his family in Vancouver, Dajome appears likely to continue to settle and hopefully carve out a role in Marc dos Santos’ system.
Unsung Hero Award: Andy Rose
This one could have gone a lot of different ways but I gave it to Rose just because he went from being a player the the entire fanbase had left for dead a season ago to becoming a pretty capable centerback. He is not someone who probably should have gotten the minutes that he did this season but he was a good enough stand in to warrant another year on the roster. His passing is sound, he is talented in the air and he anchored a partnership with basically every other centerback on the roster at some point this season.
As Caleb wrote in his breakdown of the Caps’ CB options:
Well that’s a bit surprising, isn’t it? Andy Rose, who was unimpressive as a midfielder in 2019, is a genuinely good MLS centre back in 2020.
Not bad for a guy we all would have driven to the airport ourselves a year ago.
Shameless Self Promotion
Revel in the Caps’ win because its the last one you’ll get for awhile—here’s the post match
Best of the Rest
The Union made their first trophy in franchise history a big one, claiming the Supporters Shield Sunday. Not a bad organization to emulate, eh?
The best matchup in the first round of the playoffs will undoubtedly be LAFC/Seattle, which will eliminate a strong MLS Cup contender right off the bat. Other intriguing ones include Orlando City/NYCFC and Columbus Crew/New York Red Bulls
A bit of a playoff preview to get you through the internationals, as we all get to pop popcorn and kick back, imagining what its like to be in the postseason
Sad news in USL, as Reno 1868 folded on Friday, purportedly due to COVID-19 financial strain