Good Friday morning Caps fans, hope you all are gearing up for the weekend. I, for one, am actively excited for a Vancouver game for the first time in what feels like forever.
Indeed, this is the most positive things have felt for the team in a long, long time, dating back to their last playoff trip in 2017. If you’re still buzzing from Wednesday’s win, well, I’m guessing you’re not alone.
It is probably best not to let the exuberance of one win (no matter how spectacular) get in the way of objective, fact-based decisions but I am fully on board with the notion of keeping Vanni Sartini around as a permanent manager, if that is something he is interested in.
Previously, I felt the team needed a new direction, led by a manager with robust international experience and I felt it would make sense to let Axel Schuster at least weigh other options. It turns out that new direction — and a defined tactical identity — was sitting right there all along. Sartini’s Italian influenced back three and actual ability to implement a high press have not just gotten results, they fit the current personnel and give the front office a chance to actually go out and find players for a system, rather than taking shots in the dark (which Lucas Cavallini is increasingly appearing to be).
The players appear to love playing for the guy, even though his motivation style may not be quite as effective two seasons from now (or after a couple losses in a row) as it is now. But after a string of coaches who players actively disliked or were generally neutral towards, the notion that the Caps might actually have someone who is a net positive in the locker room can’t hurt.
And while you can chalk up Wednesday’s win (and the ones that proceeded it) to any number of factors, Sartini has overwhelmingly nailed his substitutions (and been pretty spot on with most of his personnel choices). Brian White coming on obviously had a huge impact but both Cristian Dajome and Leonard Owusu had immediate impacts as well. After a manager who was largely reactive on this front, having someone who can diagnose and make changes effectively is no small matter.
Obviously there remains a question as to whether Sartini is actively interested in staying on in a permanent role or if he would rather return to his prior role. Either way, the Caps win — Sartini keeping some sort of influence in the club is a good thing and his work provides a ready-made blueprint for what the Caps could and should look like going forward.
If all else fails, it will be a magical half-season that showed the league — and Caps fans — what the team could be. And for a franchise that has trended towards the mediocre (or worst) that is a welcome feeling.
Shameless Self Promotion
Best of the Rest
Deiber Caicedo cracked the midweek MLS Team of the Week and it is tough to argue it isn’t deserved
Old friend Raphael Veiga could be on his way to Inter Miami. Hopefully they count their DPs better this time
The Canadian Men’s National Team has moved into the top 50 teams in FIFA’s byzantine rankings system, a long-term win for players moving to Europe and a short-term win for bragging rights