Good Monday morning Caps fans, hope you all are putting yesterday’s match behind you and are embracing some better vibes for the week ahead.
On a personal level, yesterday’s match was the blast — it was the first live sporting event I’ve been to in about 15 months. On literally every other level it was, erm, rocky to say the least.
It’s hard to tell how much of the tactical flop was related to it being the third match in eight days — the cynic (and realist) in me knows that this is a flimsy excuse but it is really hard to square an encouraging display on Wednesday with an aimless performance just four days later.
I give some credit to Marc dos Santos for doing something a lot of us have wanted to see for awhile: A legit, honest-to-God chance for Ryan Raposo to start and earn some quality minutes. The problem was he just didn’t see up to it. Beyond conceding a clear penalty (despite my initial moaning from the stands), he just wasn’t engaged in the few attacking forays the team made in the first half. It wasn’t miles worse than what we saw from some of the other attacking players but it was surely disappointing for Raposo, who has been fighting for play time.
It was only after the team was 2-0 down that MDS made the move which he should have made all along by adding Michael Baldisimo to the equation, a move which didn’t exactly turn the team into an attacking juggernaut but it certainly gave them a more lively look. It put someone on the pitch who was looking to slip his teammates in on goal and find pockets of space, even though most of those attempts didn’t quite come off.
It leads you to wonder what Raposo’s future with the side is and whether he is on the fast track to Theo Bair-esque purgatory (his first-half substitution mirrors what happened to Bair against LAFC last season). It is a bit of a mental blow to be substituted in the first half, especially when it wasn’t really your fault.
The dynamic, self-assured player we saw at Syracuse was nowhere to be found Sunday and, frankly, has been nowhere to be found since his MLS debut against LA Galaxy last March. Perhaps a loan deal is the way to go but it is hard to imagine he will get another start anytime soon.
I don’t mean that to be harsh, as I want Raposo to succeed and vindicate his high Superdraft selection. And it isn’t as if he was the only one to have subpar performances Deibar Caicedo and Cristian Dajome have shots which I think are still orbiting over eastern Kansas as we speak. The defense was disorganized and were bailed out only by a superlative Maxime Crepeau performance. A bad day at the office for basically the whole squad.
The few positives? I thought Javain Brown looked excellent — he showed a real attacking verve about him that matched what Bruno Gaspar brought the other night and it didn’t look as if it was his debut at all. It is always easy to criticize Jake Nerwinski and I don’t think it was a shambolic game from Jake. But I would like to see Brown get more of a look going forward — I would hope the fact that he wasn’t loaned out means that MDS will give him a real look for the backup spot going forward.
And while I wouldn’t say Kam Habibulah looked spectacular in his sub appearance, I was happy he got a sustained run out in the post 3-0 garbage time. His penchant for flair and clever dribbles was clear and he always looked a threat, even though his efforts didn’t always come off. It isn’t a hot take to want to see more of Kam but the underlying energy and potential really became clear to me in seeing him play live.
One hopes this will be a learning experience for the Caps. Despite an inconsistent start to the season, SKC are exactly what the Caps want to be — an assured, attacking team who are able to seize control of the game and take it to inferior opposition. After the Houston game, the Caps will have a sustained break — time to get fit, to build chemistry and (maybe?) get a number 10 in.
Shameless Self Promotion
Luis has all the gory details in the post-match report, which you may have to read through cracked fingers.
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