Good Friday morning Caps fans and thank goodness we have made it to the end of the week.
It's been a bit of a week here in the U.S. and I’m nearing the end of my rope a bit so this will be a touch shorter than usual. I won’t discuss it much more but I think the gravity of what we saw play out in Washington earlier this week has done a number on many of us, particularly those like myself who are in the news world.
ANYWAY, there is always soccer to think about to distract from our burning world.
The Province had a really interesting sit down with Axel Schuster as part of a piece looking at the Caps’ recruitment and what challenges and opportunities lie ahead in the offseason. I would encourage you all to go read it in its entirety.
Probably the most newsworthy part is when Schuster drops some hints about the players the team has most closely been watching but before we get to that, there were a couple of interesting points that struck me.
Everyone knows this pandemic-ravaged season has been weird and that this would affect player recruitment. One thing that JJ Adams points out is that teams in European leagues as big as France are in major financial pain (not helped by one of France’s main broadcast partners being on the brink of bankruptcy).
That means teams are looking in places they would not normally for young talent that will come cheaper than a starlet in a European league, or even from Brazil or Argentina. This actually could be a boon for some MLS teams but it might present a bit of a predicament for teams which like to mine medium-sized South American leagues, such as Vancouver. More competition could well exist for players that the Caps were sizing up.
The fact that MLS teams will all be getting (likely) their Youth Designated Player slots will likely not help this. Obviously there are plenty of young players in the Americas to go around but it might require some flexibility on the part of the team’s new scouting operation, testing it quickly.
Schuster confirmed (not that it was really in doubt) that Deibar Caicedo is one of the team’s transfer targets but, per usual, gave no real update on the status of that deal. Schuster underscored they have plenty of plan B options, meaning the yearly rumors linking Vancouver to everyone under the sun will likely continue.
On the kinds of players the team is actually looking at, here is what Schuster had to say:
Two of the players were South American — “one from a big country, one from a small one,” Schuster said with a grin — while the other played in a top European league.
It is unclear whether Caicedo is included in this. But given the Caps’ spending habits in the past, it would not shock me if the “small” league in South America was Colombia, or perhaps Uruguay, where the team has scouted heavily in the past.
By similar logic, the “big” league would seem to be Argentina, where the Caps have had better luck finding players in recent years. The “top European league” could really be anywhere but it is always worth keeping in mind Schuster’s background in German football. While it hasn’t really seemed to impact player recruitment yet, it is a place where he has a network of contacts that could help give the Caps a leg up in Central Europe and this might be where the team is looking.
At the moment, anything more than this is pure conjecture AKA the most fun part of transfer silly season. Toss your guesses as to who we’re looking at in the comments. I’ll start: Uruguay wonderkid Matias Arezo, who already bagged four goals in 15 matches in the Apetrua for River Plate de Montevideo at 17 years of age and might be getting national team looks. Probably a pipe dream but man it would be fun.
Here are some other links to chew over:
Best of the Rest
The Canadian Men’s National Team could be facing off against the U.S. in a friendly, a big moment for this blog. Between The Sticks analyzes each selection for the roster individually
A nice team-by-team offseason preview from Tom Bogert, one of MLSsoccer.com’s solid reporters
MLS is taking over the sale of Real Salt Lake, starting today
In a long overdue step, FIFA will start testing concussion subs at the Club World Cup. Teams would get an additional sub in the event of a head injury
A nice look at Philly’s recent track record of selling young talent abroad