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Coffee with the Caps, Monday February 22

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

Good Monday morning Caps fans, hope you all are firing up the coffeemakers to get up and running for your week ahead.

We are *finally* getting some firm details as to what the much vaunted U-22 slots will look like (although this is all based on anonymous sourcing, albeit from some of the league’s better journalists. A final announcement is still some time away, one imagines), presumably helped by the fact that the CBA has been done and dusted.

If you’re a subscriber of The Athletic, I highly recommend the story breaking it all down. It appears to be a hybrid of the rumors initially floating around. These are not simply three additional DP-like slots but instead the number of spots you get are keyed into who you have signed as a senior DP.

The exact cap hit on these U-22 spots (Young Allocation Money? YAM?) seemingly will fluctuate based on how old the player signed for it actually is. A player also gets a grace period of a few years after they are no longer 22 where they will still count as a YAM player (I just like the acronym, OK?).

How many YAMs you get varies. If you have three senior DPs who are over 23 and cannot be bought down with TAM, you only get one U-22 spot. If you have a younger senior DP or can buy down one of your DPs, you get 3 YAMs.

This is obviously going to present a quandary for teams, including the Caps. The team has no qualifying senior DP, depending on who they elect to bring aboard as their creative midfielder. That would limit their ability to take advantage of the YAM rule — a problem in a few senses.

Firstly, for a smaller market team like Vancouver, anything that facilitates the ability to attract and (hopefully) sell on young talent is a big opportunity and would be a chance for the club to scratch some more lottery tickets to improve upon their record of selling guys to Europe. It would make the acquisition of a guy like In-Beom a lot more straightforward of a process.

But the bigger issue here is that many of the Caps’ peers will certainly be licking their chops. Sam Stejskal notes that some signings which have already taken place, such as Santiago Sosa by Atlanta United, are likely to be destined for those U-22 slots.

Given how savvy teams like Seattle, Toronto and Portland have been with their DP signings, it stands to reason they will similarly be able to attract quality YAM players, with the demonstrated wherewithal to splash the needed cash to bring aboard more established youngsters, who have higher ceilings.

If the Caps only go with one of these U-22 slots, they’re losing ground not just because other teams are able to bring on higher priced DP talent but now three higher priced youngsters as well. Because of the hit or miss nature of signing young players, Vancouver needs to be using their shiny new scouting department to try and outfox their opponents and to effectively play the odds, you gotta use all three of these positions.

Now, this isn’t as hard as one would think. The Otavio pursuit seems to be reaching its logical end and this will likely turn the Caps’ attention to Latin America and guys like Tigres’ Leonardo Fernandez.

Also, the team could still be looking at moving along Ali Adnan (something which likely wouldn’t happen until summer), which would give them more flexibility, regardless of the age of the number 10 they elect to bring aboard.

There are two other potential ramifications worth pondering briefly. For one, more MLS teams aggressively searching for South American talent will likely mean teams in Argentina, Colombia and elsewhere using that against them in negotiations and extracting a higher transfer fee.

And more teams hunting for young talent will likely mean more competition from within the league for the same players — think Nashville SC actively seeking out Deibar Caicedo at the same time as the Caps. That means Vancouver will have to work efficiently or else risk being gazumped by their peer clubs. It’ll add a new source of intrigue and disappointment for us fans and I, for one, am looking forward to it (yeah, I’m a masochist).

Best of the Rest

A good look at what the future holds for the new scouting team

Some insight on the team’s current preseason conundrum, specifically with respect to getting friendlies set up

Some banter at the expense of our French-Canadian brethren

Jordan Morris suffered a serious knee injury while on loan at Swansea City, the worst case scenario for the Sounders