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Coffee with the Caps, Monday January 24

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Good Monday morning Caps fans, hope you all had a relaxing and restorative weekend. It’s been a busy last week for the club — good news for us, as it means plenty to talk about.

The first, and less surprising, move was the departure of Janio Bikel, who is headed on loan to LR Vicenza in Serie B. The Italian club have an option to purchase at the end of it and even if that opportunity is not taken, one imagines Bikel has played his last match in Vancouver.

This is a tough one for me. Moving Bikel on was the right option given that the club needs to free up international slots and the fact of the matter is that he slipped further down Vanni Sartini’s pecking order as last season wore on.

Bikel (and Caps fans) will probably be a bit disappointed in Bikel’s tenure in Vancouver, as he never quite fully flashed the skilset he displayed for CSKA Sofia before joining MLS. I would argue, however, that his steel in midfield was vital to the club during key stretches of the Marc dos Santos era and there were times in which he was one of the most vital players on the roster.

Yet he never was quite able to extend that form into last season, with his ball progression and passing not quite where it needed to be, something that likely dinged him in the eyes of Vanni Sartini.

In any event, Bikel was a good servant to the club and played really, really hard — sometimes to the point where discipline was a bit of a concern. In a different world, where roster constraints weren’t quite so constraining, he would be a decent piece of midfield depth. But at the moment this is certainly the Caps’ most crowded position and this was a sensible move.

The club have issues at a position which is disturbingly getting less crowded, however. Har Journalist is reporting that Evan Newton is asking out of the club because of a personal matter — the same reason Max Crepeau departed last week. While Newton is a capable enough deputy, his exit wouldn’t normally be rued except for the fact that it leaves the Caps with Thomas Hasal and basically only Hasal as a senior keeper (Issac Boehmer is technically on trial at the moment and might wind up on the MLS Next PRO team).

It is an awkward time to be searching for a decent backup — as my colleague Caleb Wilkins points out, there just aren’t many good (or morally upstanding) backups available in the free agent pool at the moment.

Milan Borjan, out of favor at Red Star Belgrade, will not be coming to Vancouver, Axel Schuster said, and one wonders if they will be looking towards the USL or CPL for more attractive options.

Either way, this is a wrinkle the club did not need as it starts preseason and tries to craft the remainder of its roster. As I said on Friday, I trust Schuster and the brain trust to MacGyver a way forward given some these surprises but if you’re starting to get a sense of deja vu, well, I wouldn’t blame you one bit.

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