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Coffee with the Caps, Monday January 31

United States v Canada: 2022 World Cup Qualifying Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Good Monday morning Caps fans, and it is a good Monday morning indeed for the Canadians among you (which I imagine is literally everyone who is not me). Hope the rest of your weekend was as dominant as the Canadian Men’s National Team’s 2-0 win over the U.S. on Sunday.

The win effectively catapults Canada into Qatar, though they will likely be unable to mathematically clinch against El Salvador on Wednesday. It is irrelevant, however, as I can’t see a scenario in which the squad doesn’t have somewhere to be this winter.

As an American, it pains me to say this, but it is clear the Canadians are playing the best soccer in CONCACAF at the moment, winning comprehensively without the best player in the confederation. Whether this translates into success in Qatar remains to be seen but I don’t think anyone is doubting them at this point (I mean, who doubts a team with a keeper who wears sweatpants).

Credit to a plan that saw a very compact posture from John Herdman that forced the U.S. to play out wide, at which point they ran into some high-quality fullback play from Sam Adekugbe and Alistair Johnston. The U.S was simply overrun in midfield for much of the match.

And when the Americans threw everything at the match late to try and rescue a point, they simply were abysmal at finding any space to create anything up the middle and this mindset and adaptability will serve Canada well when they (hopefully) are in the main event in a few months.

The U.S. was let off the hook by Mexico, who drew with Costa Rica (though a win from Panama saw them creep closer to both teams). But no matter what happens in the midweek, they are in an uncomfortable position. I’m sure you all are enjoying that immensely.

For your Caps-related updates, the club appears to be nearing a deal to send Theo Bair to Scottish Premiership side St. Johnstone on a permanent transfer.

I’ve been on the side of giving Bair a full preseason with Vanni Sartini and giving him another chance to make an impact in Vancouver, though I can see why all parties involved may have wanted to move Bair on. He gets a chance to start in a European first division (for now; St Johnstone are bottom of the table), the Caps get some sort of transfer fee (likely not a large one but there is a reported 50% sell on clause) and also free up some roster space to pursue a striker who fits in with what Sartini wants. And at this point, a perpetual loan cycle is silly — either he will get playing time in MLS or he won’t.

Ultimately, with Lucas Cavallini (and his salary and potential ability) on the roster, Sartini was always going to look to him as the first choice six foot tall-plus striker, with Bair as a bit player. That being said, I don’t love the idea of Tos Ricketts (who I guess is still with the team?) being the lone backup striker option, assuming something happens with David Egbo (though maybe that won’t be in the cards now).

There have been a few reports linking the Caps to strikers and it would be sensible that they get someone in eventually, though Cavallini and Brian White are obviously the top options. With the need for a backup keeper as well, Axel Schuster still has an honest-to-God shopping list with the calendar to turn and the season creeping closer. For those who like MLS silly season, this is a win. For those who have flashbacks to insane Caps’ roster turnover? It is less idea. Either way, watch this space for news.

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Phonzie had fun watching the game Sunday, clearly

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