Good Friday morning Caps fans, hope you all have had a lovely week and are starting to think about what the weekend has in store. A happy belated Thanksgiving to all Canadian readers as well.
While the playoff schedule has been announced, the attention of most Caps fans has drifted towards the inevitable debate between armchair GMs over what should be done with the roster this offseason, a parlor game more fun than the matches themselves.
The list of players with an option is lengthy but still pretty neatly divides up into several categories. There are a few guys where the consensus among fans and the front office are likely to differ. Derek Cornelius, for instance, has done well on loan and fits an obvious need, yet likely won’t be back in the Caps plans. Christian Gutierrez is not listed here but I believe has an option and is a fan favorite but appears to be in the Vanni Sartini doghouse and will be moved on.
Here’s a list of #VWFC players who aren’t under contract for 2023 and are heading into option years/free agency.— J.J. Adams (@TheRealJJAdams) October 12, 2022
Who do you Armchair GMs out there fancy bringing back, and why? pic.twitter.com/XOKUJnAQrg
Without further ado...
You have to have the common sense of an amoeba to extend
Really only Gressel is an obvious slam dunk here but I would argue both Raposo and Berhalter are pretty logical guys to bring back. Despite dealing with injuries for much of the season, Berhalter looked at worst to be a good depth piece, a creative central midfielder who fits well with the system Vanni Sartini is looking to employ and a surefire bargain for what the Caps gave Austin FC to acquire him a year ago. Raposo is versatile, showed some real improvement this year and is relatively cheap, domestic cover. Seems like a no brainer to keep around for another season.
Yeah, let’s keep them
I have no strong feelings on Boehmer and don’t see him as an MLS player long-term but I doubt the Caps move him on. Luis Martins has been a bit inconsistent but was better more matches than not down the stretch and seemed to cement a starting spot. I think the Caps will probably look for an upgrade here but you could do worse for a rotation option. Godinho is in a similar boat — not quite a MLS-caliber starter but is quite good as a depth option, is cheap and domestic and really seems to have gotten his career back on track in Vancouver.
This is the category that Cornelius and Guti should slot into but it seems unlikely the front office shares that assessment. If I were building the team (my Football Manager experience doesn’t qualify me for a job, apparently), they would be in the plans.
All of these guys seem pretty clearly not to be in the club’s plan, though I could easily be proven wrong on Cropper (one imagines the front office saw the mediocrity of the goalkeeping this year and Hasal is younger and has more upside long-term, hence my assessment). Egbo didn’t get many minutes on loan in Memphis and seems destined for the USL full time. Newton wants out. Bikel has been discussed at length in this column and despite my appreciation for his playstyle is unlikely to return.
Nerwinski got a lot of minutes and is a constant flashpoint for controversy. I think the hate has gone a bit too far and the 4-2-2-2 covers up his most obvious flaws but there is still little reason to bring him back, particularly for the amount of money he’s been getting paid. Owusu had moments of quality this year but the arrival of Alessandro Schopf seemingly spells doom for his time here and he never quite put it together in Vancouver. Baldi really has stalled in his development the last two years and now seems to be a CPL-level player, not a guy who is going to be getting regular MLS minutes.
Obviously moving on a couple of these guys will mean eating sizable transfer fees. It will be interesting to see if that is palatable to the Caps because there is no way they get anything approaching what they paid for Owusu and Bikel.
That brings us to ...
The great unknown
Cavallini is such a unique situation that I almost didn’t include him in this. But this decision is going to be the biggest one the front office makes and it seems like things are trending towards an amicable divorce, with Cava either returning to Liga MX or Europe. I’d have no problem bringing him back but I also think clearing him out and finding a different DP striker is where things are headed and might be for the best.
Tos is cheap, domestic and showed this year he is aging like fine wine. As long as he’s happy being down the depth chart and continuing to move into a “super-sub/locker room guy/potential future coach” there is no reason not to bring him back but I don’t have a super clear idea of where things might be trending.
That’s all my read on the situation. Feel free to drop yours in the comments — after all, what else do we have to do but war game this out?
Best of the Rest
An interesting story on how Andre Blake could have been a Whitecaps player if the Union weren’t so quick on the draw
Three big questions that are set to guide the Caps’ offseason
Our first peak at the logistics for the CONCACAF Champions League, where the Caps will make their triumphant return in 2023
A look at how the handful of teams who missed the playoffs last year but made them this season turned things around