Happy Friday Caps fans, hope you all are gearing up for the weekend. Not to rub things in too much for our Canada-based readers, but I will be at the Caps match on Sunday in-person and I couldn’t be more excited.
The squad is coming off a result Wednesday that, while disappointing, also was a good illustration of what the team can easily be — a side that plays attractive, offensive-minded soccer and who can take the impetus in a match. I maintain this was the best they have looked under Marc dos Santos in some time and after a few matches that were less promising, this one seemed to offer a real path forward — one I hope the Caps will take.
It might be difficult on Sunday, however. As I tweeted on Wednesday, MDS’ use of subs were not good at all and it puts the team in a bit of a bind for the Sporting Kansas City match. Some players, namely Lucas Cavallini, looked gassed in the second 45 the other night and it had a real impact on the team’s play.
The odds that some of those same guys will be able to do another 90 minutes on Sunday seems low, meaning MDS is probably going to have to get creative and, perhaps, rely on some guys like Theo Bair that are clearly down his pecking order.
It will likely be another chance to see Derek Cornelius in the lineup. Despite being out to sea on the goal Wednesday, I thought DC had an overall good game. His physical, aerial presence was welcome and, given Andy Rose’s injury, the Caps probably don’t have any other choice than to give him a go Sunday. Hopefully it is a chance to leave a positive impression on MDS.
On another note, we got our annual look at the Caps’ salary books and there are some pretty interesting takeaways. Per The Athletic, the Caps have the lowest wage bill in the league.
On its surface, that is a little surprising given the amount of money the team has spent on transfer fees over the last couple of offseasons. The team’s ranking is more consistent with where you would have expected them to be in the penny pinching days (which were, admittedly, not that long ago).
But, given a bit more thought, it all makes sense. The team is one of the youngest in the league. Younger players are generally cheaper and guys like Deibar Caicedo, Cristian Gutierrez and Janio Bikel are on very reasonable deals (all under 350,000).
Even the Caps’ DPs aren’t blowing up the budget. Lucas Cavallini makes $1.1 million but when you compare him with Sporting Kansas City’s Alan Pulido (a similar player who came to a small market team from Liga MX at about the same time), Cava makes half as much as his counterpart.
There are some head scratchers. Jasser Khmiri makes $240,000, putting him ahead of even Bruno Gaspar. And Jake Nerwinski and Russell Teibert make a relatively significant chunk of change just by virtue of being veterans.
But overall, I would argue there are good signs in this document. The team is getting better about finding players who won’t cost as much but have that all-important resale value.
Even if the transfer fee up front on a Bruno Gaspar or Caio Alexandre is a bit hefty, they appear to have made it up on the backend with a below-market or market-rate (for MLS anyway) salary. There wasn’t anyone on the roster who floored me with how much they are making and the fact that the team has been so frugal means there is presumably room to throw a good wage offer at a prospective DP number 10.
While some may look at this and say “Ah, the Caps are cheap” I would just quickly counter with the data point of FC Cincinnati, who spends the fifth most on wages in MLS and, well, hasn’t had a whole lot to show for it other than some wooden spoons.
While in most major soccer leagues worldwide there is a direct line between wage spending and success, that isn’t true in MLS — Seattle and Portland are both in the middle of the pack. I’d rather the Caps end up more like their Cascadian rivals than FC Cincinnati.
If you want to do a deep dive on the salaries, you can find the whole database here.
Now here are some links to chew over...
Shameless Self Promotion
Best of the Rest
More on what the wage spending reality means for the Caps’ DP hunt
We now know Canada’s Gold Cup schedule — All 3 group stage games, including a titanic clash against the U.S. will be in my backyard of Kansas City
An interesting look at the mental toll playing in MLS can take on players
The tussle between MLS and Kaku is set to only get messier as the two sides appear destined for a court battle
Orlando City and the Orlando Pride are close to having a new owner, if reports are accurate