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Coffee with the Caps, Monday August 30

MLS: Minnesota United FC at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Good Monday morning Caps fans,

The truth of the last few days has been that breaking up is hard to do — even if it was the absolute right thing to do.

This is, of course, in reference to the sacking of Marc dos Santos, less than a day after the calamitous defeat to Pacific FC in the Canadian Championship. Comments from both parties after the news was announced indicate, however, that the move was a long time coming. Ownership and Axel Schuster had come around to the conclusion that Caps fans had reached some time ago: MDS was not showing signs he was up to managing the project that the front office has finally sunk good money into.

MDS is a nice guy, even though his managerial work has been rather maddening to watch. Being a nice guy, of course, does not get you very far but it is worth noting that Dos Santos had a statement in the press release announcing his firing — something I don’t think I’ve ever seen. The players still clearly had some affinity for him (check Maxime Crepeau’s comments after his sacking) — this wasn’t a Carl Robinson-esque losing the locker room scenario.

I was honestly a bit surprised that Schuster took such decisive action. The loss to Pacific FC was bad but the Caps do have a significant unbeaten streak in the league and an outside shot at a playoff spot. While the loss on Thursday was probably worthy of a firing, we’ve seen other such performances before with no sign of action forthcoming. One wonders if the optics of losing to a team from within your own province, at a time when the Caps are struggling for relevence in their own market, perhaps was what prompted the action.

The unfortunate truth is that under Dos Santos, the Caps were likely to continue to be closer to the Voyageurs Cup performance against Pacific than their run off good form in the league (Sunday’s win notwithstanding).

Schuster’s comments reflect that:

“The results maybe at some point even have been a little bit fake for us and we were passing on a few fundamentals you have to do in the game,” Schuster said. “And I think yesterday it was the last drop that came to add to the conviction that this is necessary. To bring up one stat, Pacific FC had yesterday eight shots on target, [which] is the highest number this team had in the entire 2021 season.

“It’s something we see in a lot of games for us and we have some of those games we have survived because of an amazing job our goalkeepers have done and some of those games we have survived because our last defense line has defended with a lot of passion and willpower and effort. But this is not continuing all the time, you cannot rely on that.”

A brutal assessment of things but one that is probably fair. Despite some signs of progress, MDS was never able to fully implement the style of play he was aiming for. The club now has a chance to go find someone to do that, to match the ambition the club was aiming for in bringing aboard Ryan Gauld, Caio Alexandre and others and to find an innovator to match the team’s cutting edge embrace of Nikos Overheul.

The firing of MDS will mean the club will be in the strange position of having a caretaker manager at the same time they nurse their outside chance of a playoff spot. Vinni Sartini is a fine choice to lead the way in the meantime, a familiar face given his past work with the U-23s and director of methodology. One wonders if perhaps his familiarity with youth might be a win for Michael Baldisimo, whose presence has lifted the team in the post-Gauld era (though his injury at the moment is cause for concern), and some of the other younger players.

If Sunday night’s result is a sign of things to come, I imagine Caps fans won’t be overly fussed about finding a permanent coach anytime soon.

Shameless Self Promotion

We run down the first match of the post-MDS era, which the Caps won in style. That made it pretty easy to write the match recap and report card.

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