Good Monday morning Caps fans, hope you all are ready for work after dreams of Ryan Gauld flicks and tricks danced through your heads last night.
The LA Galaxy match was one that was satisfying in many respects (Gauld’s debut, Janio Bikel turning into a midfield boss, a strong second half performance on a hot evening with tired legs) but a point is two fewer than the team needs to really gain ground on the playoff race and salvage something out of this season.
But Gauld’s arrival (and the presence of Florian Jungwirth on the bench, because we don’t want him to feel left out) has me feeling some kind of way so let’s focus on the positives for now.
The problem with a 20 minute cameo for a player as hotly awaited as the Scotsman is that it leaves everyone wanting more, it makes everyone want to see what happens when that full debut rolls around, when MDS can sit down and build a team around his new creative midfield talent.
But it is thrilling to have a player with the cajones to try and one-time chip the keeper from the edge of the box, at an acute angle ... and almost pull it off. To see a guy know how to pull the strings on a one-two ... yeah these are things that other teams have taken from granted in their DP attackers but it is not something the Caps have had available to them as of late.
Gauld may not be firing on all cylinders for a few matches. And even if he is, it probably won’t be enough to get the Caps into the playoff picture. But bring some joy to fans who have been in short supply? Yeah, that seems doable.
And while we’re at it, how about a shoutout to Janio Bikel. Many post-Gauld mock starting XIs did not have Bikel in them, amid the increasingly cluttered midfield picture. But his smashing play as of late may force Marc dos Santos’ hand — in his current role and form he is effectively undroppable.
Bikel has always been a tough, gritty midfielder who gets stuck in and is able to intelligently roam about. But as his passing as improved (checking in at 97%+ on Sunday!), he has been the main offensive engine for the Caps in recent matches. His work in the second half against the Galaxy fueled the teams turnaround and helped create lots of room for his teammates to operate in, most notably Javain Brown.
There were a lot of questions if his passing would ever regain the levels he displayed at CSKA Sofia. His 88% pass completion rate is trending in the right direction and if the Caps elect to continue to play him further forward, moving Michael Baldisimo back into more of a holding midfielder role, there is no reason to believe that won’t continue. Options ain’t a bad thing when you’re running a football club and Bikel (and Gauld) are giving MDS plenty of those going forward.
Shameless Self Promotion
Caleb Wilkins goes in on David Egbo’s loan stint at Phoenix Rising and why he could be just the ticket for the Caps’ striker depth questions.
Best of the Rest
Theo Bair is headed to Norway on his loan; meanwhile Gianfranco Facchineri is joining Egbo in USL:
More on the Caps’ deadline day dealings for Pedro Vite and Jungwirth
It happened too late for me to sneak it into Friday’s column but a massive win for the Canadian Women to secure gold in penalties, in a landmark soccer moment for the country
As their wheels continue to stick in MLS, FC Cincinnati sacked their GM in a move to shake things up