Good Monday morning Caps fans, it’s a bright, warm spring--like day in my neck of the woods and I’m sure we’re all still basking in the glow of a win from Saturday night.
Yes, it was a much more encouraging performance, although not without warts. LA, to be sure, has underwhelmed in the post-Zlatan era and were almost shocking at times in their passing and chance creation on Saturday.
But the three points count the same and there is a decent chance this win looks a lot better in a few months than it does today. It is also worth noting that Sporting Kansas City demolished Houston on Saturday afternoon 4-0. Not that I think the Dynamo are very good in the first place but there is certainly reason to believe that SKC is better than we may have initially thought, making last week’s defeat look marginally better. Grasping at straws to be sure but hey we’re two weeks in here.
While we’re reflecting on Saturday, three cheers for two guys playing out of position who put in strong shifts, going above and beyond my expectation that they simply keep their head above water.
Indeed, Andy Rose and Janio Bikel were two key cogs in the Whitecaps win, with the backline looking steady in the fact of a disorganized LA Galaxy attack. The worst thing you can do against an offense which puts you under relatively little pressure all game long is make a calamitous mistake and both of these guys held their nerve.
But moreover, they both contributed directly to the Galaxy’s woes. Bikel held Cristian Pavon, one of the most potent attacking threats in the conference, in his back pocket for much of the game, with only a few slip ups. His pace allowed him to get back into position in moments where Pavon did manage to slip by. He looked strong on the ball and, despite some reports from Hungary to the contrary, looked pretty good at picking out a pass, linking up with Christian Dajome semi-regularly to the point where many attacks flowed through the right hand side—a change of pace for the Caps.
I’m a bit worried that people will get excited about the prospect of replacing Jake Nerwinski and set overly high expectations for someone playing out of position. Based on what he showed Saturday, I like Bikel much more as a midfielder, although, hey, I’m not complaining about some fullback cover at this point.
Even better on Saturday was Andy Rose who, left for dead by most all of the fanbase, was the steady hand the team needed at CB on Saturday. I was most impressed by his positioning—he did what any good, experienced CB should do and put himself in positions where he could catch shots, snuff out crosses and, on at least one occasion, make a vital clearance. All this from a guy who was playing out of position.
Rose’s honeymoon could be short lived. After all, he only started because Erik Godoy is hurt, Ranko Veselinović is stuck in an embassy somewhere and Derek Cornelius is a bit out of form. But in the meantime, he appears to have something to offer at CB: good positioning, a bit of physicality added in to replace the departed Derek Cornelius and a bit of passing ability to boot. Rose’s skillset makes him, at best, a slightly below-average MLS midfielder. But could it make him into a useful CB asset? Time will tell but he sure made a strong case Saturday night.
Time for some links!
Shameless Self Promotion
Best of the Rest
I’d say the Caps took a step towards establishing their tactical trademarks, as Between the Sticks wrote late last week
USA Today did a list of their top 25 MLS players ever and it is ... interesting
The U.S. named a youth-heavy and MLS-heavy roster to attempt to qualify for the summer Olympics which may not actually happen
Due to coronavirus concerns, France has barred more than 1,000 fans from attending any league matches over the next month with some games, including PSG’s Champions League tilt against Dortmund, to be played behind closed doors
Have a safe, happy and healthy week friends—we’ll see you back here on Friday