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Coffee with the Caps, Monday December 5

MLS: Playoffs- Round One-Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Sporting Kansas City Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Good Monday morning Caps fans, it was a busy weekend in soccer, both in MLS and in the Canadian Premier League, and there is plenty to discuss.

We begin, however, with a piece of news that was talked about in Friday’s CWTC but which deserves to be fleshed out somewhat.

We know the identity now of the players who will not be back for the Caps. The club is in talks with some of the out-of-contract players to bring them back. One guy, however, Bruno Gaspar, was in a bit of a different situation after the Caps declined his buy option, which seemingly shipped him back to Sporting Lisbon and ended Bruno’s tenure in Vancouver.

Gaspar was seemingly a favorite of Vanni Sartini, as he seemed to edge back into the picture ahead of Javain Brown on some occasions. But his option-to-buy was pretty hefty and it seemed logical that he wouldn’t be kept around full time.

But wait! It appears Gaspar might not be done in Vancouver after all, with rumors that the Caps might be dipping their feet back into the well for another loan.

This is surprising, not because Gaspar was catastrophically bad (he wasn’t) but because the team is short on international spots and there really isn’t anything Gaspar did that a domestic player couldn’t.

This isn’t a knock on Bruno. His beginning in Vancouver was upset by injuries and that allowed Javain Brown to impress and steal a lot of minutes that otherwise would have headed his way. I thought this was a sure sign he would be frozen out in Vancouver, as he seemed to be a Marc dos Santos special (Lusophone player from the Portuguese league who is a capable two way fullback) but he seemed to impress Vanni Sartini, who actually gave him more of a chance in the roster.

This would be a deal that, international roster spots aside, would make some sense for all parties. An underwhelming year in MLS won’t help Sporting move him on and another year in the shop window might. Gaspar would get more minutes here than he would in Portugal. And Sartini seems comfortable using Gaspar and liked to use him on either side of the pitch to boot, making him good cover for both Brown and Cristian Gutierrez. He is on a pretty favorable deal for the club, contract wise, so there isn’t a ton of risk here.

Again, Gaspar wasn’t bad — he just doesn’t set the world on fire defensively or on the attack. His Football Reference data shows a player with some strong points — cutting out passes, pressing — that seem born out by the empirical evidence and also make him a good fit for what Sartini wants to do. The totality of the report, however, puts Gaspar as an average-to-below-average MLS fullback.

The international roster spot situation obviously is what makes this a bit of a head scratcher. Even with Jasser Khmiri moved on last week, there will need to be some other roster moves made in order to come into compliance. Perhaps the club has some deals lined up for Leonard Owusu, Ranko Veselinovic or a mystery player. But in a market where international spots cost $200K+ in GAM, Gaspar didn’t offer enough to justify the cost.

And that’s really where the intrigue begins, rather than ends. Axel Schuster and Co. aren’t dumb and if Gaspar is sticking around, it means there will likely be some other moves waiting in the wings. All of which is good news for this blog — nothing racks up the pageviews like some transfer rumors.

Shameless Self Promotion

As if to prove that last point, Caleb has a nice 10,000 foot overview of where the Caps need to be headed this offseason

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