Good Friday morning Caps fans, hope you all are anticipating the weekend just as eagerly as I am (has it been a long week for anyone else?).
The Caps are back in action Sunday night, a good way to cap the week after a pretty darn good batch of World Cup Qualifiers for the Canadian National Team.
If you are looking in the moral victories department, the Caps got one of those earlier this week when Deiber Caicedo was named to the MLS’ list of top players under 22. While not exactly on the level of winning the Ballon d’Or, it is nonetheless a pretty nice accomplishment for Caicedo.
For context, I am struggling to recall the last time a Caps player not named Alphonso Davies cracked this list.
Reading too much into a list that is as much about public relations as anything else is probably a fool’s errand. But one does wonder if Deiber was worthy of a higher ranking than 21.
Four goals and six assists in your debut season for a fair-to-middling team isn’t anything to sneeze at.
A closer look at his Football Reference chart tells a bit of a richer story. While his goals and assists per 90 minutes is average to above average, his dribbling abilities put him in an elite category in MLS. His ball progression and chance creation stats are also excellent. And this is taking into account that he is being lined up against a batch of forwards who are more likely to be DPs or at least top-level players.
This sums up Caicedo pretty neatly. His finishing may have made him an object of Whitecaps’ fans ire early in the season but no one has ever (or should have ever) questioned his value. Caicedo is a dynamic player, who is the best player on the roster at taking defenders on and beating them. Because of this, as well as a finely tuned ability to carry the ball forward into the attacking third, he creates a lot of chances. The fact that he did a lot of this in a pre-Ryan Gauld era is even more impressive and it bodes well for his long term future in Vancouver.
Caicedo was signed with a lot of promise but there were questions about translating his abilities into an MLS context, in part due to worries (which should now be extinguished) about the level of play in Colombia. He has more than answered those and deserves a level of respect leaguewide that is consummate with his performances this season.
He is certainly deserving of consideration for the newcomer of the year award — an honor only Pedro Morales has won in the Caps’ history. A look at the list of award winners shows a lot of guys who either have had storied MLS careers or earned big money moves to Europe. Many were established veteran players when they came to MLS — further underscoring how Caicedo has punched above his age bracket.
Caicedo is not in the league’s elite just yet. But this season has shown why the Caps should sit back and let him develop because a rise to that upper echelon could be in the cards if they do.
Shameless Self Promotion
The post-Gauld era has its limitations too, the latest in Caleb’s data dives shows. Apparently playing a patchwork defense is ... really not good
Best of the Rest
Canada cruised by Panama 4-1 on Wednesday behind a stellar performance from Alphonso Davies, putting them in third place in the Octagonal.
This earned Davies a comparison to one of the top players in world football (not to mention Canadian football) history
The performance was so good that Drake wanted to hang out with them, which I guess is a badge of honor?
Cristian Dajome has been fined for embellishment during the Sounders match
Further MLS expansion developments should be coming sooner rather than later