Good Friday morning Caps fans, hope you all are getting ready for the weekend (a long weekend if you are U.S.-based like I am).
In a brief distraction from club-related matters, participating countries rolled out their Gold Cup rosters Thursday and while there were few surprises, it gives us the clearest picture yet of what should be an entertaining — and parity-filled — tournament.
Canada’s roster, while not a complete A-team, is a pretty solid B+, especially when compared with the squad of their groupmates, the U.S.
The only missing names that really jump out are Jonathan David, Scott Arfield, Atiba Hutchinson and Borjan — all admittedly core players. But getting Alphonso Davies to participate is a huge coup and Cyle Larin will add attacking firepower.
Seeing Tyler Pasher made the roster after a strong season with Houston was exciting (and a big blow to a Western Conference rival). The news of Ayo Akinola’s nationality switch will likely offset any pain in not having David up front. And it will be interesting seeing if Theo Corbeanu gets any minutes in his first major tournament appearance.
The news for the Whitecaps is even better: only Lucas Cavallini and Max Crepeau wound up making the final roster — both losses the team had to have been expecting and ones they planned for with the additions of Brian White and Evan Newton.
Cristian Gutierrez got a reprieve — a good sign for the Caps’ depleted fullback ranks and Javain Brown did not make the Jamaica roster (presumably due to fitness), despite rumblings he might be getting a call up.
To be sure, losing Cava and Max are blows but basically every team in MLS will be without a key player at one point of time or another because of the awkward international schedule. With the potential arrival of Ryan Gauld on the cards, much of the core team will be intact for Marc dos Santos to get any new shiny toys acclimated and a first choice XI settled.
As for Canada, I have to think they are the favorites to top the group, given the C squad the U.S. opted to trot out. I could easily see the two teams playing to a draw, with the group coming down to whomever has a superior goal differential against the other two teams.
The almost entirely MLS-based U.S. side has some positive young players (led by Gianluca Busio and the two Euro-based players, Schalke’s Matthew Hoppe and Caen’s Nicholas Gioacchini). But there is no one of the individual quality of Alphonso Davies (or, for that matter, much of the strong Mexico side announced Thursday also). In big tournaments, experience and moments of magic are decisive and the U.S. is a bit short in both departments.
In any event, it should be an intriguing tournament. The weakened squads from the U.S. and Mexico are both unsurprising and welcome — it should leave the tournament as open as it has been in some time and part of that is due to the strength of Canada. Ultimately, CONCACAF is better when their events are not just a fait accompli, a well worn path to a U.S./Mexico final. For better or worse, the Gold Cup will certainly not be that.
Onto the links ...
Shameless Self Promotion
Caleb runs down what the Caps’ spending spree has meant in terms of on-the-field performance — and what it foretells about the future. He also looks at what is up with the Caps’ young’uns and loanees.
Best of the Rest
If you wonder how other people look at the Caps, our colleagues over at Big D Soccer have a Caps’ scouting report and it is pretty on point
If you want to get excited about Ryan Gauld, boy have I got the story for you
Minnesota United confirmed Franco Fragapane is the player implicated in the alleged racial slur incident Saturday night
Columbus is the latest team to trot out a new soccer-specific stadium
Austin FC smack Portland Timbers 4-1 to get the first win at their new stadium