Good Friday morning Caps fans. I hope this column finds you all well and that you are gearing up for what is basically the first weekend of fall (let’s be real, it ain’t summer anymore).
It was a jam packed week in MLS news, capped off by an eventful media availability with Axel Schuster yesterday, which our own Sam Rowan was there to be a part of.
Its worth reading’s Sam’s summary because it is striking to me how good an interview Schuster is—direct, engaging and informed. He basically confirmed a couple of key points that were all but known already, including the fact that a scheduling announcement is coming later today for a handful of matches (none of which, it stands to reason, will be in Vancouver).
But the point I want to spend just a few moments on is confirmation that MLS will be adding some form of “young DP” slots going forward, something which has been kicked around since the last CBA negotiations.
As JJ Adams notes above, it is not a done deal, nor do we know 100 percent if the format that Schuster suggests is what the final iteration will actually look like. Initially the idea was suggested by some of the league’s erm less generous owners that the young DP slot would replace one of the three, already-existing DP spots. That would mean that teams which do like to spend would be somewhat constrained in how they do so and that teams which don’t like to splash the cash would be able to spend less and still fill all three DP spots.
But Schuster is making it sound like this would be in addition to the current DP slots. Obviously you can use DP slots for a young DP at a lower cap hit (which Vancouver has done in the past) but the number of teams which do that would pale in comparison to those who would look to take advantage of this new system.
In part, Vancouver can be thanked for that. Their sale of Alphonso Davies to Bayern Munich was a landmark moment that has led us to other major European migrations, including FC Dallas’ Reggie Cannon heading to Boavista for a multimillion dollar fee earlier this week. Teams are wising up to the fact that revenue from player sales is actually a pretty viable way of supplementing their budgets. Not that this is a radical concept but the part of the logic for a young DP slot to be more ingrained was to more fully enhance the league’s reputation for development.
For a team like Vancouver, the move could not come at a better time. While the future of Marc dos Santos is looking a bit iffy, Axel Schuster’s player recruitment has been pretty sound. Sam made the point in his story that young players like Joaquin Ardaiz and In-Beom have perhaps soured Caps fans on how the Caps would fair with their young DP slots.
But both of those came under the previous regime and I would again contend that Schuster’s player recruitment has been much improved. While I don’t want to imply that all of the Caps’ forays into the young DP world would be fruitful, I trust Schuster to succeed.
And for all of its flaws as a club, the Caps are once again regaining a reputation as a team which plays its kids. The Davies example has to have done wonders for the clubs reputation in this sense but the recent spate of academy prospects getting time has to be a pretty good selling point for young players abroad. Come here, work hard and you’ll get playing time. Do well there and you’ll get a spring board to Europe—just ask a certain left back in Germany.
Now, I don’t want to get too excited just yet. There are reasons to believe this system will probably evolve before it comes to fruition and might not be quite the boon that it currently seems to be. But any system which preserves the current DP model, while also giving teams the ability to bring in high quality younger players at a lower cap hit, would be an unqualified win in my mind for the Caps (and frankly most teams in MLS).
I do want to dig into the data a little more and ponder over what this system might mean for the Caps. Sadly, I don’t have the time to do that this morning, so stay tuned for a follow up next week [eyeball emoji]. In the meantime, have a few links...
Best of the Rest
The club announced a “new organizational alignment” that actually doesn’t change a whole lot. The upshot? Two new front office positions in marketing and revenue will be filled and they’ll serve alongside Schuster, Rachel Lewis and Tom Plastera. Probably not the change the Caps need...
Speaking of youth players ... a dive from ESPN into the thorny issue of solidarity payments and why they just aren’t a thing in MLS’ parallel universe
Gonzalo Higuain will be leaving Juventus for Inter Miami meaning we don’t have to see stories linking Miami with Messi anymore
Sporting KC youngster Gianluca Busio might be the next player making a leap from MLS to Europe
Seattle smashed San Jose 7-1 last night and that makes me feel a little bit better about how the Caps fared against Seattle (and a little bit worse about how they fared against San Jose)