Good Monday morning Caps fans, hopefully you got your MLS-related frustrations out of the way on Friday night and were free to enjoy a lovely weekend.
It is hot here and I’m tired, meaning I have to fight the urge to simply copy and paste any of my columns from after the Caps’ defeats from earlier this season because there has been no meaningful change in the DNA of this team since.
The truly frustrating part is the team came off a three-week break, with only one starter away on international duty, and immediately was out of the gate looking disjointed and disorganized. This was supposed to be Marc dos Santos’ chance to build that cohesion and settle on some sort of tactical identity. That clearly didn’t happen.
The team did improve enough in the second half where they could have credibly argued a draw was a fair result. But then came the defensive implosion late. It comes off a pretty familiar Achilles heel for the Caps, however, with a wide ball coming and causing chaos for a team which remains mystified when it comes to dealing with long balls and aerial threats.
The fact of the matter remains that the loss puts a pretty big dent in the Caps’ playoff aspirations. This is not exactly a shock (remember our preseason predictions?). But the club needed to remain more competitive for one of those postseason spots and ... they just look off the pace of that goal at the moment.
We learned a few useful lessons from Friday’s match. Javain Brown was apparently the right back the team needed all along ... and he is perhaps the team’s most effective attacking player at the moment, based on the positions he was able to work himself into and the struggles of the team’s two wingers to get balls into the box. Even this might wind up to be a curse, rather than a blessing, as Jamaica may well give him a Gold Cup look, further decimating the team’s fullback options.
On the flip side, I am not sold on Brian White, although a lot of his struggles stem from a) his first competitive match and b) the fact that the team was physically incapable of getting him service throughout the hour or so he was on the pitch. But when there was a half chance which came his way, his touches often let him down or he made a poor decision. Even the goal went in thanks to a fortunate deflection after a real shank of a toe poke. White will absolutely have a leash (given the amount of GAM the club spent on him and MDS’ apparent attitudes towards his fellow strikers) but I am tempering my expectations until proven otherwise.
Fixtures will be coming pretty quickly in the next few weeks, giving them a pre-Gold Cup window to make a case for optimism (I’m willing to bet they eventually claw themselves back into the periphery of the playoff race before imploding in spectacular fashion and dashing any hope that was built up).
The ultimate takeaway, however, is something approximating this:
MDS is either the worst coach ever, or Axel’s spent $20m on the worst collection of players ever. Either way it’s just awful, whatever it is.— (@GlassCityFC) June 19, 2021
There have been some underachievers on the roster, make no mistake. But I have a hard time seeing the lack of collective talent being the problem anymore. This is simply not a team, whether because of poor coaching or something else, that is not able to get more than the collective sum of their parts out of what on paper should be a half decent squad.
It is still hard seeing MDS getting canned before the season is out, or at least before the team returns to BC Place. Given the roster quagmire the Caps will likely find themselves in during the Gold Cup, this is probably the merciful course of action.
But I think we all have an inkling of what the answer is to the above question is.
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A bit of good news — Cristian Gutierrez’s injury on Friday appears less serious than initially feared
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Austin FC have christened some pretty awesome digs at Q2 Stadium, though they could only manage a 0-0 draw in their debut
Oakland Roots had to postpone their first home USL match because of a pretty shambolic looking playing service