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Coffee with the Caps, Monday August 23

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Good Monday morning Caps fans, hope you all are back at your desks, buzzing from Saturday night’s late winner and ready to take on everything this week might throw at you.

It was a dream return to BC Place for the Caps, who put their second straight come-from-behind victory on the board and increased their window of opportunity to sneak a playoff spot.

It was not a pretty win, particularly the first half, which was rather dreadful. Don’t get me started on the penalty — the Caps probably deserved to go into the halftime break trailing but to go down like that was infuriating. The fact that LAFC’s performances have dropped to the point where they’re groveling for penalties like that should be pretty embarrassing for the club, who has been scuffling as of late this season.

Past Whitecaps teams might have folded their tent or seen their confidence plummet, even though they were back in front of an impressively loud 11,000 fans. Instead, Marc dos Santos, who has been admittedly much more decisive in his subs as of late, went for two halftime changes and, just like the midweek, they made all the difference.

LAFC could have had 3 or 4 goals, to be sure. But MLS is all about taking your chances and, if the opposition does not, making them pay. The second half was all about that. And while Ryan Gauld will get the man-of-the-match accolades (with good reason), credit should be given to Michael Baldisimo, whose arrival took pressure off of the centerbacks to play out of the back and opened up the ability of Gauld to get to the point where he could start shaping the game.

The team’s mental toughness could perhaps be summed up by the performance of Javain Brown, who had perhaps his weakest half of the season in the first 45 minutes, capped off by conceding the phantom penalty on the stroke of halftime. He was having trouble managing the threat of Diego Rossi and it was one of the few times this season where he looked out of his depth.

Instead of dropping into a more conservative posture, he raised his levels in the second half. Never at any point did he back off diving into tackles, even to the point of picking up a nasty knock to the head. Clearly unbothered, he nabbed two hockey assists and on both of the goals his pass to release Cristian Dajome and Ryan Raposo were absolutely vital.

Max Crepeau deserves credit as well — part of the LAFC finishing woes were down to his massive saves. The prospect of being Canada’s starting keeper come World Cup Qualifying time will perhaps remain a strong motivating factor and it is difficult to argue against him as the man in goal in two weeks time. A rocky run of form seems to be a thing of the past.

The real story of Saturday was, of course, the return to home and some modified sense of normalcy. Credit to the club for endeavoring to make the whole experience special and credit to the fans who came out and were in full voice the whole 90 minutes. Despite the diminished capacity, the noise when Gauld headed home the winner was as loud as I’ve heard the stadium in some time.

And ultimately that is why the Caps’ run of decent form is so encouraging. Getting fans to come out during what was looking to be another dud of a season was going to be a tall task.

But why then, did I see multiple folks rueing their decision not to go to the home return when Gauld nabbed his first goal. When was the last time you heard fans wishing they were at BC Place? Heck, when was the last time fans felt that the Caps were giving them something worth watching, something that is worth investing time and money into?

Making the playoffs is still a long shot. And, as the first half showed, this Caps team has not transformed into world beaters. But the arrival of Gauld has given everyone a lift, created a buzz about the team, not just in Vancouver but leaguewide. Not since Davies has the team had someone who made them appointment TV. The Scottish Messi may have changed that.

Now that I’ve written all this we’re probably going to lose to Pacific FC but oh well.

Shameless Self Promotion

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