Good Monday morning Caps fans, and we have made it two Mondays into the season without a feeling of debilitating doom hanging over this column. Progress!
The fact that Vancouver can be reasonably disappointed not to have six points from their first two matches is a testament to their bright start to the season. If the team doesn’t concede a Yakkity Saks equalizer or if Ryan Raposo strikes the ball a bit differently, then we’re talking about a deserved pair of wins to start the season against teams many of us thought would drub a short-handed Caps side.
Saturday’s match showed the progress the team has made, as well as the distance it has left to cover. This was not a smash-and-grab, but rather a performance from the Caps that credibly merited a result, probably even deserving all three points.
The front three of Lucas Cavallini, Deibar Caicedo and Cristian Dajome looked everything that fans were hoping for at the beginning of the season — and that is even before the arrival of Caio Alexandre to the starting lineup (although the debut for the Brazilian and his Lusophone counterpart, Bruno Gaspar, was another silver lining from the match).
Cristian Gutierrez continued to impress, so much so that there now appears to be a consensus that even when Ali Adnan gets his visa sorted, Guti should remain the first choice left back and relegate Adnan to the wing. He leads to the team in assists and key passes and does not appear set to slow down.
Case in point: if you would have told me a year ago that the Caps would be having 47% of their attacks coming down the left-hand side when Adnan wasn’t in the lineup ... I would’ve been very confused. The performance was again a two-way one, as he led the team in tackles and chipped in a trio of clearances to boot.
The defense was obviously where things were lacking — the second choice backline which held up so well against Portland was much more exposed Saturday and the lack of Erik Godoy was clearly felt.
Andy Rose obviously made amends with his goal but one wonders if Marc dos Santos’ choice to bring on Derek Cornelius for a back three late in the game was a sign of his potential re-introduction to the starting XI (fingers crossed).
The sloppy defending is the chief concern but there are some other potential issues as well. MDS’ substitution patterns are still ... baffling. The team has not actually scored from open play this season and while few Caps fans will actually be troubled by this given how potent the front three have looked, banking on a return to the #CornerCaps is not a viable long-term attacking strategy.
The good news? The team has some room to figure those things out, although a timetable for Godoy’s return is unclear. Less fearsome rivals await in Colorado and Montreal and it is far from implausible to suggest that Vancouver could get results from their first four matches. It’s the Caps so this will probably all come crashing down at some point but, for now, things are looking up.
And a word on the team’s transfer dealings. Uncertainty still reigns in the race for Jean Pyerre, although reports out of Vancouver Friday afternoon that the club had moved on from the Brazilian entirely appear to have been premature.
The good news? Pyerre’s father said in an interview that there was legit interest from the Caps. The bad news? He says the matter is to be left up to Gremio, who appears set to make the Caps pay upwards of $9 million for half of his rights. Offers from European and Middle Eastern clubs also might be on the table, his dad said.
There will undoubtedly be more drama on this throughout the week and I wouldn’t get your hopes up. But if the deal got across the finish line? Well, the team’s promising start the season could be a real, true sign of things to come.
Shameless Self Promotion
We have all of your match recap needs covered from Toronto. Luis runs down the top-line takeaways from the 2-2 draw.
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The Province’s recap of the team’s long awaited draw (drawing is for art students baby)
The team (finally) inked the highly touted duo of Kamron Habibullah and Matteo Campagna to homegrown deals, bringing them into the senior team fold
A useful refresher on where MLS stands in adopting some of the more controversial changes to the laws of the game
Chicharito is officially back: The LA Galaxy front man bagged a hat trick in the side’s 3-2 win over New York Red Bulls on Sunday