Good Friday morning Caps fans. No match this weekend, meaning we all have a bit more time to prepare ourselves mentally for what will be a wild final week of the MLS season.
It was another Vanni Sartini masterclass Wednesday night. While the Caps weren’t at their best, they still did a job against Minnesota United and a strong second half lifted them to all three points, thanks to a reprise performance of the Brian White/Ryan Gauld show.
Saturday night was an example of out-of-town results going Vancouver’s way, taking some of the pressure off. The opposite was true this time, with a Real Salt Lake victory over FC Dallas requiring a win in order to stay above the playoff line.
That win proved valuable, however, as it takes the Caps up to fifth place and while RSL has a game in hand (and everything remains wicked tight), it gives as much breathing room as Vancouver could reasonably hope for.
This means the first Decision Week in awhile where Vancouver has plenty to play for and the rest of the league is starting to take notice. People are wondering if Brian White should be getting a look from the U.S. National Team. The Caps are being hailed for their second half turnaround, their shrewd summer dealings and, if they make the playoffs, are widely agreed to be the team no one wants to face. It is, in short, a good time to be a Caps fan.
Then reality hits.
A Guardian report, which I would imagine most of you have read by now, details a series of allegations against former women’s head coach Hubert Busby, with a former trialist accusing him of soliciting sex from her in 2010. It appears management, including Dan Lenarduzzi, had knowledge of the allegations at the time and, much like similar behavior in the past, did nothing.
Most Vancouver fans and commentators I have seen have been steadfast in maintaining that this fresh round of allegations tells us what we already knew: the top brass needs to be cleaned out and a thorough investigation ordered to better understand what went on in the women’s program and what needs to be done going forward.
Who is going to make the Caps do this? Well, that’s a difficult question. MLS has never appeared interested in forcing Vancouver’s hand on this and the national federation is just as culpable. If there is going to be real, meaningful action, it will come from sustained supporter and community pressure.
Fans get this. The main supporters groups have consistently supported survivors of sexual assault, as has this blog.
But it was paradoxically easier to speak out on these issues when the Caps were bad; there was nothing to distract from these topics and while the ownership has no problem remaining conspicuously silent, it is more noticeable when nothing else is going right with the franchise either.
These next seven days are as important as any the club has had in its existence. I have seen an exponential increase in the amount of play the Caps have gotten among national, league-wide media. The league has taken notice of the impressive work that the men’s side has done to become relevant — a step forward we all hope is not a temporary one.
But that should not be a way for the club to sweep this issue under the rug. There is no better time to increase pressure on the team to confront its negligent behavior than now because there are so many eyeballs on the organization, on its players, on its personnel and on its fans.
These new allegations come at an inopportune time for the club and that is exactly what creates an opportunity. Be excited about the final week — I am. But don’t let that excitement obscure the ways this club has consistently failed its players and the Canadian soccer community. Because doing that is exactly what its leaders want.
Shameless Self Promotion
Get caught up on the midweek triumph over Minnesota with our post match and report card recaps.
Best of the Rest
A nice long look from The Athletic on where things stand for the Caps — and background on how “Stand by Me” came to be
Montreal saw off Forge FC in penalties to advance to the Voyageurs Cup final. Again.
The Canadian Women’s National Team is hopeful their gold medal will result in more respect globally
A look at how Bruce Arena took the New England Revolution from the cellar to one of the best sides in league history (if points are any consideration)