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Coffee with the Caps, Friday August 21

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MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Toronto FC Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

Good Friday morning Caps fan and happy (I think?) match day—hope you all have exciting and relaxing weekends ahead of you.

I have to say I am not enthralled by the prospect of another abysmal performance like we saw Tuesday. But at this point, if you’re still a Caps fan and care enough to read this column, you’re probably as much of a glutton for punishment as I am and will watch.

If you do watch, it appears very likely that we will see a different tactical look than we saw in the first leg. MDS hinted yesterday that this will entail three centerbacks and a five-man backline, with a bit more support in midfield to prevent a repeat of whatever the disaster Tuesday was.

I’m not opposed to the idea of a 5-3-2, although I suspect it will probably mean the team will find a different way of losing rather than how they got battered senseless the other night.

Three-at-the-back and an extra midfielder will do a few things. It’ll cushion against the waves of attack we saw the other night and hopefully will mean a tighter, more cautious defensive front that is less mistake-prone.

But it doesn’t fix what were some of the more underlying problems. Sure, it might allow Ali Adnan to push forward more but when that happened the other night the issue was that there was never anyone around to get on the end of his crosses. Sacrificing an attacker is going to make that problem worse, not better.

And while moving a player like Andy Rose or Rusty Teibert to a defensive mid role might sound nice on paper but neither player is particularly well suited to the job (though Teibert slightly more so). Moreover, while whomever is left in midfield will be allowed to push forward more, that doesn’t necessarily solve the problem from the other night which was down to the quality of passes from midfield, not the quantity.

Unless Owusu (and whomever is next to him tonight) plays with more concentration and duplicates his performances in Orlando, where he was pinging balls around the pitch, the formation isn’t really going to matter so much.

But perhaps the biggest issue a formation won’t solve was the general lack of interest shown by the players on Tuesday. Look, I get the potential reason for a lack of focus—this has been a strange season and I would imagine it is hard to get fired up for matches against the other Canadian teams.

But the massive lack of focus the other night (especially after MDS’ pregame remarks) made the result all but a foregone conclusion, especially given the talent gulf that already exists between the two teams. The abysmal passing, players looking lost in defense, non-existent pressing—all of these things were not down to the tactics per se.

From a fan’s perspective it is difficult to know where this is coming from. If its down to the manager, it is another strike against MDS. Tonight will probably give us a better read on if that is the case or if Tuesday was a one-off.

The attitude was really what made Tuesday’s result so frustrating. And, again, I get why guys might be a bit switched off. But a basic level of focus is required if MLS is going to use these as regular season games and the team is going to set up tactics to try and scrape results.

Stay tuned for 5 pm tonight, I guess!

Shameless Self Promotion

If you haven’t taken a stab at what the lineup is going to look like tonight, get em in!

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