Good Monday morning Caps fans — it is playoff week and while it will be a frosty match in Kansas City on Saturday, I can’t wait.
We alluded last week to the MLSPA releasing the list of expected free agents and players who have a team option going into the offseason. For once, the Caps have at least a few more days before they have to worry about these discussions — but with a bit of a lull before this week’s match, I thought it would be reasonable to break down some of their options.
Based on this list, some teams have lots of players who could potentially be out of contract but the Caps are not one of them. This points to an offseason where we probably won’t see seismic changes — which will suit most of us just fine.
Two players — Andy Rose and Tos Ricketts — are set to be free agents, while Florian Jungwirth has a team option for next season. All of these guys present a fairly straightforward debate.
Jungwirth was immense for the Caps this season and while it is likely the team will seek to bolster its center back options, having a MLS veteran who gives his all and can mentor the younger players in the CB room makes a lot of sense. Jungwirth fits well in Vanni Sartini’s system — he is excellent at long passes out of the back, is capable making forays forward into the attacking third and works seamlessly with the fullbacks to fill in gaps in the defense.
There isn’t much drama here — Axel Schuster has already hinted on social media that it is a done deal to return Jungwirth for another season and given that he looks very happy in Vancouver, it all makes a good deal of sense.
done (1 more year)— Axel Schuster (@TheAxelSchuster) October 28, 2021
Both Rose and Ricketts, meanwhile, are aging players who became nothing more than depth options under Sartini. Jungwirth and Vanni arrived at about the same time, which largely explains the limited minutes Rose got down the stretch and injuries were a problem for him at times (like every other center back). But it is telling that, even when fit, Jake Nerwinski was favored over him at CB.
I don’t think anyone has any grudges against Rose — despite his initial rough season in town, he has made up for it by being a dependable center back option and a good mentor (and burgeoning coach) for younger players. Given that the Caps will be signing at least one CB this offseason, it would make sense Rose would make way. But if you wanted a guy who is domestic to stick around for one more season as a depth/locker room guy, I wouldn’t be opposed. It wouldn’t surprise me either if Rose, who will be 32 in February, wants one last chance to play regularly before coaching full time. Either way, the arch of the team won’t change a ton.
Same thing for Tos, who got some run outs as a sub and looked passable but didn’t have the supersub impact for years past.
The Caps almost certainly can find a more effective Canadian player in the CPL and, given Ricketts’ age (34 years old), it is possible he may wind up in the CPL if he chooses to continue playing.
Given the fact that the team has other decisions to make at striker (sell/loaning Theo Bair, grappling with David Egbo’s international status, figuring out what to do with Lucas Cavallini), moving on from Tos makes some degree of sense. Another guy where Caps fans won’t feel any ill will, however, and if by some chance he stays, it probably won’t be that big of a deal.
As for guys the Caps should look at signing? The free agents list has a lot of guys who are over the hill, not a good fit or unlikely the team will splash money on (Maxi Moralez and Albert Rusnak).
Raheem Edwards, who fans have pushed the Caps to sign like a billion times, is a free agent, however, and would seem to be a good fit in Vanni Sartini’s system. If Max Crepeau or Thomas Hasal were to depart the club, Stefan Cleveland could be a good option as a backup/timeshare keeper. And old pals Brek Shea, Yordy Reyna, Jordan Harvey and Steven Beitashour are available for a reunion (dear Axel: Don’t do this).
Who would you like to see the Caps sign? The list is here and the comments are open — you know what to do.
Best of the Rest
Canada earned a 1-0 win over Costa Rica Friday, putting them in an excellent position to qualify for the World Cup after 7 qualifiers
As the men’s national team has won on the pitch, their #brand has gotten a big boosts
Meanwhile, not to be outdone, the U.S. beat Mexico dos a cero in a comprehensive performance against their southern rivals
An arrest warrant was issued for former Caps striker Anthony Blondell after he failed to appear for a court date stemming from an alleged sexual assault in 2018
CB legend Matt Besler announced his retirement from MLS. A player who was always a thorn in the side of the Caps, fair play and congrats Matt