Good Monday morning Caps fans—OK that wasn’t the start we were after.
It appeared Saturday night that the Caps team we knew and loved from preseason was left off the plane in Portland, as the team reverted back to its worst habits of last year for much of the match. There were glimpses of brilliance and all-in-all the Caps would have been better served if Lucas Cavallini would have brought his finishing boots but it was still a disappointing performance.
Now, I still believe you have to reserve judgement until Leonard Owusu and Janio Bikel are up and running in the midfield because Russell Teibert and In-Beom just don’t give you enough muscle in the middle of the park and, frankly, In-Beom is being played out of position in such a setup, drastically diminishing his effectiveness.
Some bright spots (and I already know I’m going to get some heat from the peanut gallery on this one) were the wingers: Cristian Dajome and David Milinkovic, the latter of which was roundly praised by fans and the former was loosely compared to Lass Bangoura, the guy who kidnapped the Lindbergh baby and Satan.
But guess who the data said had the better game?
Admittedly, Milinkovic was always more likely to pass the eyeball test, assisting on the Caps’ lone goal with a great bit of play. He also had the lower expectations from fans, many of whom (myself included) were a bit puzzled by his signing. He had, by all accounts, a strong preseason and went and built on that Saturday night with a nice debut performance.
But, by and large, Dajome was a more efficient player. He was less wasteful from both a passing and dribbling perspective—if there was a negative of Milinkovic’s performance, it was some ill-timed giveaways going forward. Milinkovic also benefited from the fact that most attacks will originate on the left hand side of the pitch with Ali Adnan, giving him much more of a chance to link up and carry the ball forward.
Dajome, meanwhile, is playing alongside Jake Nerwinski who, goal aside, is not going to be bombing forward as aggressively as Ali. This, combined with the half-baked building up out of the back we saw on Saturday, meant Dajome had to drop a lot deeper than Milinkovic. A lot of people were complaining (not without merit) that Dajome was quiet for large portions of the match and I think that’s why—until we get a functioning midfield, the Caps are going to be inordinately relying on Adnan to jump start attacking moves. This means Dajome isn’t going to be able to have the kind of impact he did in South America, at least not yet.
But in the meantime, I appreciated Dajome’s directness and willingness to carry the ball into the final third, even if the midfield was generally something approaching a vehicle fire on Saturday. It wasn’t an outstanding display, to be sure, and I think it was tempered for a few reasons, not the least of which being a rather embarrassing level of theatrics from Dajome every time he was remotely fouled. It is worth remembering that acting like that is often necessary to win fouls in some leagues (for better or worse) but the sooner he knocks it off, the better.
Will Cristian Dajome end up being an elite MLS played? Who knows. Will he end up being a flop? Maybe. But comparing him to Venuto or Lass isn’t fair—his season last year was at a higher level than either of his predecessors have ever strung together. He deserves a benefit of the doubt. The fact that he is getting dumped on for a mediocre (albeit with some promising underlying numbers) in his first MLS match with a completely absent midfield is more telling of the fan base than it is of Cristian Dajome.
So every one take a deep breath and enjoy some links. Especially the dude who tweeted at me saying In-Beom is USL quality—he should take a second deep breath.
Shameless Self Promotion
Best of the Rest
Leonard Owusu is (finally) on his way and The Province looks at what he could add (spoiler: it better be a decent amount)
Season ticket sales are down—way down. Here’s a glance at what that could mean going forward
Josef Martinez suffered a torn ACL in Atlanta’s 2-1 win over Nashville Saturday evening—a major blow to side, who were hoping to renew their 2018 form
Onwards and upwards folks—have a great Monday