Good Monday morning Caps fans, and what better way to start off the week than being playoff bound.
The Caps handled the Decision Day roulette wheel with aplomb, gritting out a deserved 1-1 draw against Seattle to get across the finish line and book a playoff date with Sporting Kansas City.
We’ve discussed the theoretical notion of a playoff berth but the fact that this team was able to come all the way back to make it a reality is nothing short of amazing and is a testament to the belief that Vanni Sartini and his staff instilled in the squad and, of course, the quality of Brian White and Ryan Gauld, the scrappiest, most unlikely attacking one-two punch you’ll ever see but one which rose to the occasion again and again.
That included Sunday. When you have a big match, you want your best players to show up and battle and that duo delivered. White missed a free header that could have put the game away but he battled so hard (including the most gritty assist you could ask for) that no one will mind.
Gauld, meanwhile, lived up to his DP pedigree, with a goal, a pair of key passes and several other dangerous balls forward that his teammates were unable to latch onto. It would be inaccurate to say he carried the Caps to a playoff spot, as that waters down the credit that is owed to the rest of this team, but Vancouver’s most important player is purring as they enter the playoffs.
But credit should also be due to the entire backline, who did a job Sunday and shut down Seattle, even when Jordan Morris’ introduction into the match gave Caps’ fans flashbacks to Cascadia derbies of yore. But Florian Jungwirth, Ranko Veselinovic and Jake Nerwinski rose to the occasion in the second half and shut things down. While fans will want Erik Godoy back in the lineup as soon as possible, this was a very encouraging performance from a defense that will be tested by SKC in the playoffs.
Also spare a thought for Cristian Gutierrez and Javain Brown, who were firing on all cylinders. Sartini had them start the match switching sides, which he abandoned quickly after a couple defensive miscues. After that, both men were excellent on both the attacking and defensive ends. Guti’s ball prompted the goal and he came close to getting a second with a great whipped ball, the one White put wide.
Brown, meanwhile, was a menace tracking back, at one point running most of the length of the pitch to hunt down Jordan Morris. While Bruno Gaspar also put on a shift when he spelled the Jamaican in the second half, I want to see Brown starting in the playoffs — his energy on both ends of the pitch is vital.
Oh, and Vanni Sartini? One has to imagine his work getting the Whitecaps across the line on Sunday also did enough to get him across the line as the new manager, though we will probably have to wait until the Caps’ season is officially done (hopefully not for awhile yet!) before that is done and dusted.
Sartini: “It’s good that we don’t play for two weeks, because tonight we’re going to get so drunk, we wouldn’t be able to play tomorrow.”— Matt Pentz (@mattpentz) November 8, 2021
Why would you want anyone else as a manager?
I like the matchup against SKC. Well, on a personal level, the match being in KC means I will have a gilded chance to go. But also, this is a team the Caps handled (albeit at BC Place) and one which has lost three matches in a row. The international break gives Alan Pulido a chance to make it back in time, though Johnny Russell and Daniel Salloi are dangerous enough.
Still, in a season with enough twists and turns to start an amusement park, does anyone doubt this is a Caps team that can put together a playoff run?
Shameless Self Promotion
For those of you who missed parts of the match because it was all one long anxious blur (me), Sam Rowan recaps how the Caps got into the playoffs.
Best of the Rest
No surprises as Max Crepeau was named Whitecaps player of the year. Brian White nabbed the golden boot, meanwhile.
The team SKC lost to on Sunday? That would be Real Salt Lake, who won thanks to a later goal from Damir Kreilach and knocked LA Galaxy out of the playoffs
LAFC laid a big ole egg against Colorado Rapids, getting smacked around Dicks Sporting Goods Park, meaning no California teams will be in the playoffs. The Rapids, on the other hand, win the west.
Here is a full rundown of who booked their playoff spots
Genk forward Ike Ugbo announced he will represent Canada, another dual national victory for the side.