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Coffee with the Caps, Monday September 20

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Colorado Rapids Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Good Monday morning Caps fans, hope you all had a relaxing and productive fall weekend (even though the weather isn’t feeling much like fall where I’m at).

Last night’s match was ... certainly a game of soccer that happened. I professed to be happy with a 1-1 draw and given that I predicted a fairly easy Rapids win, I will certainly take the point — though I won’t argue with you if you were disappointed the Caps didn’t push a little harder to try and get a late winner.

Still, given how disorganized and lackluster the team was for the first half hour, a point seems like a pretty fair result, even though they had much better control of things after Brian White equalized. Given Vanni Sartini credit — I didn’t think much of how the Caps started the game from a tactical perspective but he the squad seemed to get a feel for things as the night went on. I also think the decision to bring on Michael Baldisimo was a big reason for why the Caps began to control things significantly better in the second half.

I was less of a fan of the decision to remove Deiber Caicedo, who seemed to be the team’s most dynamic player until he was subbed off in favor of Lucas Cavallini (perhaps as part of Deiber’s recovery from illness). It was, however, encouraging to see Cava actually link up with Ryan Gauld and work some shots off the Scottish playmaker. El Tenque missed easily his best chance of the night, opting to try a weird half cross, half shot for Brian White rather than more fully commit to going for goal. It was a decision that would have looked brilliant had it come off but it is a bit frustrating for a team when their DP striker doesn’t try and shoot in those situations. Still, was broadly a better performance from Cava and you have to think he will return to the starting XI against FC Dallas next weekend.

But it is worth a shoutout to Ranko Veselinovic and Florian Jungwirth, who took their effective partnership to the next level on Sunday. The pair combined for five tackles, five interceptions, 12 clearances and 5 blocked shots, most of which came in a second half where the defense largely frustrated any Rapids attempt to get a shot on goal. Ranko had a massive double block on a chaotic sequence of chances for the opposition which probably amounted to the Rapids most tangible second half opportunity. Both also made forays up the field in the times when Sartini had the players awkwardly convert it into a four-at-the-back setup.

The Caps still have some serious questions to be raised about their organization (given that they keep giving up the same set piece goal again and again). But given that you have to dance with the ones who brung you at this point, I think we can all get on board with a Ranko/Jungwirth/Erik Godoy combination of centerbacks.

Jungwirth in particular has proved to be an inspired signing. A quick glance at his Whoscored ratings shows that he has had only one meh match and that was against Portland, a game in which he was not alone in, well, being meh. The other three matches ranged from quite good to man-of-the-match-esque and they represent a significantly higher level of play than what he was showing for San Jose.

This is in part due to the fact that Sartini’s style of play favors a CB like Jungwirth who can play out of the back. And given the organized chaos of the Caps defensive strategy, a guy who can play mop up duty is vital.

Jungwirth may not have a long term future in Vancouver and that’s OK. But if the Caps make the playoffs, you might be able to point to his acquisition as the most pivotal non-Ryan Gauld moment as to why.

Shameless Self Promotion

If you missed the match last night (or just want to trade notes), Caleb has your back with the post match report.

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