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Coffee with the Caps, Monday February 1

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Sporting Kansas City v Vancouver Whitecaps: Round of 16 - MLS Is Back Tournament

Good Monday morning Caps fans and happy February — January simultaneously zoomed and crept by and I am thankful to be taking baby steps towards spring.

On Friday you all got a brief whiff of the news that the Caps had settled on a backup keeper because it broke right as I was setting it to publish.

But I figured it would be good to dive a bit more into what the signature of Evan Newton, a 32-year-old USL journeyman, means for the future of what is clearly the position where the Caps’ have the most depth and strength at the moment.

First things first: Newton seems like a decent, if not exactly inspired, signing. Caps fans may remember him as the starter on the USL-era FC Cincinnati teams when Spencer Richey was loaned to them and he has played for seemingly every decent, non-MLS 2 team in USL.

You could take this in a few different ways. On one hand, you could argue that he’s 32 years of age and never gotten a shot in MLS (he's been on MLS rosters three times but never got a start in goal in a league match). But that fact makes him dirt cheap and that’s pretty important for your backup keeper (the fee was mooted to be $15,000, which is significant for a MLS-USL transfer but, writ large, is nothing).

Newton is probably not going to bring a whole lot different to the table than Bryan Meredith but he seems to have been solid enough in USL and will be the break glass in case of emergency option.

Now, the obvious intrigue is what this means for Thomas Hasal. It was unlikely that Hasal was going to be the Caps’ backup, with no one really wanting a prized young asset to stagnate on the bench.

The issue now is whether to loan Hasal out or to give him a shot to win the starting job. This is complicated by the fact that he seems to be a bit beyond a mere loan to the CPL and is probably at the level of a USL loan, or even a move to Scandanavia to get some minutes.

The obvious upside of a loan would be that you give Max Crepeau a window to shine before moving him on to a European side for a significant fee, all the while handing the keys to the car over to a groomed Hasal, who will have hopefully ironed out a few of the youthful kinks we saw last year.

There is now some speculation that Hasal will stick around the club and the team will come up with some sort of timeshare arrangement, with someone put in the shop window and sold. If that is Hasal, the Caps’ brass are likely to be chuffed — he’s younger, would likely command a bigger fee than Crepeau and would represent a feather in the cap for the Academy to boot.

I genuinely don’t think the Caps have made up their mind yet on how to proceed. The ongoing labor dispute will likely delay preseason, which could help guide Marc dos Santos on what he wants to do at the position going forward. The uncertainty for other clubs due to the pandemic probably means there isn’t a huge amount of urgency either unless the move is to ship Hasal off as soon as the European window opens.

I guess I would rather loan out Hasal and sell Crepeau — if Hasal continues to grow, so will his fee and Vancouver would ultimately get two tidy profits, plus a couple of seasons of top-level keeper play.

It took more than a few dominoes tumbling to get from Newton’s arrival to mapping out a five-year plan for the Caps’ goalkeeping future but it is something that has to be on everyone’s mind given how solid the position appears to be at the moment. Dealing from a position of strength? Couldn’t be the Caps!

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