Good Friday morning Caps fans. Here’s hoping you all are settling in, coffee in hand, for the final sprint before the weekend.
Yes, Wednesday’s result was disheartening, although I think it was telling that so many Caps fans I saw on social media (myself included) barely felt any sense of joy after Janio Bikel’s short-lived equalizer against LA Galaxy simply because of how drab the match had been. This fact, curiously, did not make the gut punch of conceding a late winner off of some shambolic defending any less potent.
The match sucked, you all get it. Losing five matches in a row sucks five times as much. But let’s briefly focus on perhaps the one thing that can turn the trend around: a number 10.
I feel like I write some variation of this column on a bi-monthly basis, just with different names. But the latest rumor, confirmed in both Canadian and Scottish media, is that the Caps are in for Ryan Gauld, a Scottish attacking midfielder plying his trade currently for SC Farense in Portugal.
Now, if you’re reading this, odds are you are already a fan of Gauld — he has been a darling for months of Whitecaps Twitter TM — and it isn’t hard to see why. Gauld was joint top of the Primeira Liga for key passes, with his mark of 2.3 KP per game level with Jesus Corona — a much more experienced, Mexican international who plays for a bigger club in FC Porto.
His seven assists, meanwhile, put him in a tie for sixth among all players in Portugal, and he is again surrounded by more experienced players who are with bigger clubs.
I think it is safe to say SC Farense did not have players of the caliber of Lucas Cavallini and Caio Alexandre (they were relegated after finishing second-to-last). The fact that Gauld was able to do as much as he could with that side shows he is a guy who punches above his weight and can create chances for mediocre teams (wonder where we could find one of those?).
Described as a “complete” player by his manager in Portugal, Gauld also chipped in nine goals of his own in the last campaign, something the Caps could desperately need as well until they can get Cava and their wide players going. His technical abilities are atypical for a Scottish player and this is why many were clamoring for him to be included in the country’s Euro 21 side — although it is perhaps a blessing for the Caps that he wasn’t; if they are able to secure his signature, it would mean he could start pretty much instantly.
That’s because he is out of contract with his club. That means the club can offer a much better salary — reportedly somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 million per year — and blow other clubs chasing Gauld out of the water, in terms of finances. That’s important because some relatively big clubs — Celtic, Southampton and others — are said to be interested.
There are few panaceas in football but Gauld’s signing might be as close as it gets for the Caps. It is a deal which makes a lot more sense than many of the other players they’ve been linked to in the past and it is one which financially is a much better deal, owing to a lack of transfer fee. It makes you wonder why the team didn’t wind up here sooner, especially given their apparent desire to scout the Portuguese league. But better late than never, I suppose — if they can convinced Gauld to come aboard.
Marc Dos Santos’ job likely hangs in the balance no matter what happens here (five game losing streaks will do that). But the quickest way to help everyone feel better about the direction of the club would be to get this deal across the line. It might not get the Caps into the playoffs at this point but it could be enough to cure the perpetual doom and gloom.
Shameless Self Promotion
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