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Coffee with the Caps, Monday December 20

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MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Los Angeles FC Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Good Monday morning Caps fans. If you hear sleigh bells ringing, it is because we are just a few days out from Christmas. If that is hard to believe, consider that we’re only a few more days until 2022 and at that point it is but a mere blink of an eye before we will be preparing our preview content for next season. Wild!

Apologies for missing a column on Friday — I was feeling under the weather and had to pick and choose what to use my limited brainpower on.

It was too bad too, because we got some tantalizing Caps news in a week which we all thought was going to be focused on newcomers Charlotte FC, who wound up delivering an assist in giving the Caps a new centerback.

Caleb Wilkins dove into the qualities of our new man, former LAFC defender Tristan Blackmon, so I don’t feel compelled to add a ton to what Caleb astutely pointed out.

But I will add that I think the 475,000 in GAM the Caps shipped to Charlotte for Blackmon was a pretty savvy deal and I am more than a little surprised that the expansion side didn’t want to hang onto him. Domestic, high-quality defenders are not easy to find and it would have helped their roster construction considerably, one would think.

In any event, their loss is the Caps’ gain. Blackmon is a very good ball playing center back, meaning he will fit in perfectly to Vanni Sartini’s vision for the squad and will be a nice counterweight to Ranko Veselinovic, Erik Godoy and Flo Jungwirth. He seems like the kind of guy that might get exposed in a back two but is perfectly positioned to succeed in a back three.

This does, however, raise some larger questions about where the roster finessing goes for the Caps.

There are a couple potential routes to go from here. One is the Caps elect to move on Erik Godoy or Ranko Veselinovic on to add another CB. I’m neutral on this idea; when Erik Godoy was left unprotected in the expansion draft I assumed it was a gamble that Charlotte would not want to burn an international spot on an injury-prone player. But there also could be a comfort in shopping Godoy (and maybe Ranko around), seeing if a good deal exists and re-investing those funds in a young, high quality South American CB.

I don’t know that this is a needed move but I wouldn’t be opposed to it either. Instead, though, I suspect the Caps will begin looking for a midfielder who can perhaps improve upon Leo Owusu or Janio Bikel as a partner to Caio Alexandre, helping to retain possession better and shielding the defense from having as much to do. Returning Alexandre alone will help with this task but I’m guessing Schuster et al. will want to scour the market anyway.

And, finally, one wonders what this means for Jake Nerwinski. Depth is important and Nerwinski proved he has a future as a right center back in a back three. I genuinely doubt they’d move Jake on but it is interesting they brought in a ... right center back in a back three.

Jake could play elsewhere on the back line but it pegs him down the depth chart one more and it’ll be interesting to see who comes out as the first choice CBs to start alongside Blackmon. Five players (not counting out-of-contract Andy Rose) fighting for three spots will make for an intriguing training camp battle indeed.

Shameless Self Promotion

A nice assessment of where the Caps’ roster construction currently sits, courtesy of our fearless leader Sam Rowan.

Best of the Rest

A nice look at what the Caps can do to finally start bringing academy talent through — and if that time is now. Of interest — Sartini is retaining his director of methodology title even though he is permanent manager.

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