Good Monday morning Caps fans. As we move through the holiday season, I hope you all are able to take a chance to stop and smell the proverbial roses, even during a difficult year.
I’m having a hard time getting back in the groove of writing offseason columns — after a season so action-packed, it is a very different rhythm when MLS silly season rolls around. I have to reacquaint myself with the joys of milking days worth of columns out of a single transfer rumor and commenting on the intricacies of GAM, TAM and WHAM.
One wrinkle that has grown in recent years in the concept of MLS free agency. Once an absurdly restrictive process, the league has gradually relaxed it to the point where it is a player pool with some guys who might be of use. Add in the scores more who are out of contract and, well, we have a column now, don’t we?
The list of available free agents/out of contract players is here. It is filled with its fair share of guys that teams will likely not be interested in, guys who likely will look abroad or guys that you simply forgot were in the league.
A few, however, could be useful to the Caps.
A few names stick out as ones which have been repeatedly linked to Vancouver before, Anthony Jackson-Hamel chief among them. A deal famously collapsed with Montreal for the attacker after the Caps cheaped out and refused to pay a small part of his salary but the team has a second bite at the cherry here.
Now, AJH was not exactly lighting the world on fire by the end of last season in Montreal. Making only five appearances in 2020, he didn’t bag a single goal and never appeared to be a good fit for Thierry Henry’s system. His production has steadily decreased after a 2017 season when he bagged nine goals and generally looked to be a star in the making.
It makes more sense, probably, to keep Theo Bair around and feed him more minutes than to sign a guy like Jackson-Hamel. But if the club looks for a loan for Bair (or becomes convinced he isn’t the answer moving forward), then Jackson-Hamel will be a cheap guy to bring in, with plenty of motivation to reinvent himself.
Similarly, there may not really be room for a guy like Kevin Molino, who surprisingly is on the move from Minnesota and is probably the best MLS free agent available. Incidentally he is a guy that I always sign for the Caps in Football Manager but given the hopeful arrival of reinforcements on the wing from abroad, Molino probably would cost more than would make sense for a team like Vancouver.
If Fredy Montero leaves, I think Diego Fagundez (a lifer in New England who is also a bit of a surprise to leave) would be a good option. He is the kind of player who can drop deep to progress the ball and is able to toggle seamlessly from an attacking mid to striker. At 25-years-old he likely also wouldn’t come cheap and would eat up an international slot so it would have to be a cost/benefit analysis. If they could get him for less than they were offering Fredy, though, I think it would be a strong signing. At 25-years-old he has some resale potential if he were to come to Vancouver and thrive.
Defensively the pickings are a little more slim. Matt Besler has been linked with Austin FC, Raheem Edwards got nabbed in the re-entry draft and I don’t think anyone wants to bring Kendall Waston back to the club.
Justin Morrow could be worth a look for depth at left back were Ali Adnan to leave but the former Toronto FC man is 33 and not quite the strong presence he was a couple seasons ago.
All in all, this is not a player pool where the Caps are going to strike gold — you basically know what you’re getting with all these guys. Still, a couple options do exist there if the team wants. Slide into the comments with you think should be targeted!
In the meantime, here are some links...
Best of the Rest
Between the Sticks gives their take on some of the things I weighed in on Friday — namely the Evan Bush deal and Expansion Draft hijinks
Atlanta United has formally tapped Argentine Gabriel Heinze to take over the helm. A good move from the Five Stripes that should help them regain their footing
LAFC advanced past a chippy Club America to a CONCACAF Champions League final date with Tigres. Will be good TV
By God! That’s MLS Superdraft preview music!
Oh and in case I don’t see you all Friday ... a merry Christmas filled with light and joy to all who celebrate. To those who don’t I wish light and joy (and takeout food) to you as well. Stay safe y’all