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Coffee with the Caps, Monday October 25

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MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at San Jose Earthquakes Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Good Monday morning Caps fans, hope you all are ready for another week of action, both in real life and on the soccer pitch.

The good news from Saturday is that the results elsewhere in the league could not have been better for the Caps, meaning they were assured of ending the evening in a playoff spot, no matter what they did against San Jose.

The bad news is they could not fully capitalize on that, settling for a 1-1 draw with the Quakes in a match where they looked second best — though a point apiece was a fair representation of the performance on the pitch.

In reality, a point isn’t a bad result — the Caps still remain in a much better position for the playoffs than they were entering this week and a bit of a let down after a midweek thriller seemed par for the course (I joked it would be peak Caps if they got thrashed in this one after the 3-2 win over Portland so ... at least that didn’t happen).

This is also a team that is starting to feel the effects of a congested fixture schedule, which has been amplified by the fact that every match for weeks has been a vital one in terms of making a playoff push. The end to the season is usually fairly chaotic but this one seems especially so (though maybe that’s because the Caps are actually in the thick of it this year), and one wonders if perhaps this could have bee avoided with a bit better scheduling.

There are some plaudits to be given out after a fair-to-middling match. Bruno Gaspar turned in perhaps his best match as a Whitecap, with Gaspar finding a bit more of a foothold in the starting rotation under Vanni Sartini. Part of this has been a function of squad rotation, injuries which have required Javain Brown’s services be used elsewhere and a rocky performance from the Jamaican in the midweek.

Indeed, Gaspar’s ascendance does not change the fact that this remains a crowded right back room, though both Brown and Jake Nerwinski being used elsewhere in recent weeks perhaps opens the door for all three to remain in Vancouver. Gaspar’s injury-plagued first half makes it hard to evaluate his time in Vancouver and will leave the top brass with a decision to make on exercising his buy option.

For the record, Gaspar’s stats in relation to his peers are a bit all over the place but he generally stacks up as a slightly above-average MLS right back. OK going forward, a solid passer, good at pressuring the ball and decent enough in the air, Gaspar projects somewhere in between Brown and Nerwinski in terms of balancing attack and defense. If Dajome is going to fully complete his transformation into a wingback, Gaspar is a decent counterweight on the right (though the two backs have switched sides in the middle of a couple recent matches).

A shoutout to Flo Jungwirth, whose passion on the pitch is exciting to see and he clearly got a little bit of an extra lift playing his first match back in San Jose. His admonishments of Cristian Espinoza and Cade Cowell were particularly entertaining and underscores why he is a fan favorite. He had a couple slip ups but also was in the right place at the right time on a couple vital interventions, including clearing one of the line after Max Crepeau (who also had a good night) got beat.

Elsewhere on the pitch, it was a difficult night for Deiber Caicedo, who had the fewest touches of any Caps player and had the most touches leading to turnovers. And the midfield was a bit porous and this was probably the most out of sorts the back three has looked under Sartini, though players did well to recover and limit the quality of chances the Quakes were able to get upon entering more dangerous areas.

This is all to say that Saturday won’t be a match we remember for years — and that’s OK. It is survive and advance for the Caps at the moment. Sartini predicted nine points from their final five games would be enough for a playoff spot and they already have four. Beating Minnesota United on Wednesday — a team who sit just one point ahead of the Caps in the standings — would go a long way. Buckle up folks, things are about to get interesting

Shameless Self Promotion

Is Vanni Sartini the man for the job long term? Caleb dives in and comes down in more or less the same place I’m at — just with more data to back his take up. Meanwhile, get caught up on Saturday’s match with our post game recap and report card.

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