Good Friday morning Caps fans. Hope you all are gearing up for a restful weekend and the start of the World Cup, for those of you who are choosing to watch.
But there was plenty of news not involving the Canadian National Team, most of which we tried to capture here at 86 Forever. If you’re reading this, you probably saw the news that the Caps largely declined options on the guys they were still negotiating with.
There were a couple surprises included in that, though I don’t think the Caps booting Lucas Cavallini to the curb was one of them. Clearly whatever negotiations were ongoing didn’t bear fruit, perhaps because Cava wanted to go to Europe or had salary demands Vancouver couldn’t or wouldn’t meet.
As discussed here previously, I don’t think this is a catastrophe. I trust Vancouver to find a striker that fits their style a bit more neatly than Cava, though they will undoubtedly miss some of what he brings to the table. It is a real loss seeing the entire club record fee paid for him slip away in real time, however, and hopefully does not serve as a deterrent to management loosening the purse strings to pay for a replacement.
The real surprise to me was that Jake Nerwinski and Marcus Godinho will not be back in a Caps’ jersey next year.
The Nerwinski news will be treated with glee from much of the fanbase and, given his salary, I wouldn’t have supported keeping him around at what he was making last season.
Yeah, he had some real mares in Vancouver but he also had some positional flexibility and seemed like serviceable enough depth at centerback in a back three. Vanni Sartini seemed to trust him also, making it interesting the team elected to move on. I have no issues with the move but also respect Jake as one of the longest tenured players on the Caps. I imagine he’ll find a home somewhere else in MLS, even if it is only as a bit player.
Godinho was a surprise, though it perhaps stems from a crowded fullback room. Still, I was more impressed with him than Luis Martins over the course of a season. Perhaps the money Godinho was looking for wasn’t enough and the Caps figured they could use a supplemental roster spot on a guy who could do basically the same thing.
To that end ...
The Caps, applying the logic of an amoeba, signed Ali Ahmed to a deal with the senior club, making him the first guy to be promoted from the Thundercaps 2.0.
Ahmed made a positive impression in his couple of games with the first team and was, by all accounts, excellent with the Whitecaps 2 side (he was deservedly named their player of the season). With Cristian Gutierrez still likely to leave, adding Ahmed seemed to be a no-brainer and a logical next step in his development. I think I speak for most all Caps fans when I say I can’t way to see what he brings.
He will be joined by Simon Becher, an interesting move that far fewer people saw coming. Becher, who nabbed a memorable goal in his lone appearance, didn’t really set the world on fire in MLS NEXT Pro but also will accept being on the supplemental roster, meaning the Caps don’t have to burn a roster spot on the Tossaint Ricketts Memorial Third Striker (TM) role. I will be interested to see how Becher looks in pre-season with the first team.
Finally, the Caps took advantage of Montreal’s roster moves to nab a decent piece of centerback depth, adding Karifa Yao in the re-entry draft (seriously, someone actually made a pick in the re-entry draft!). Yao spent the last season on loan with Cavalry FC in the Canadian Premier League and, by all accounts, acquitted himself pretty well.
Yao put up some solid numbers while on loan with Calgary last season. Should slot in nicely behind Ranko on #VWFC’s CB depth chart.— ☠️ ☠️ (@GlassCityFC) November 17, 2022
Radar via @GalindoPW pic.twitter.com/2OGKAjMGGG
I am no CPL expert but my impression is Yao is the type of guy who deserves serious MLS minutes, something he was unlikely to get in Montreal. Given the Caps will be fighting on several fronts this season, he seems likely to get much more exposure and seems a good bit of cheap, domestic depth. If you can get a young, promising Canadian and pay him $90k at a position of need, I’d say you pull the trigger.
Shameless Self Promotion
For more on the option news, we have the entire rundown. Caleb also does his trademark deep dive on where the Caps should be looking for a new striker.
Best of the Rest
The Caps will kick off their pre-season in late January in Palm Springs, where they also will participate in a tournament tied in with Coachella (I’m not making that up)
Now former Caps man Lucas Cavallini had the winning penalty in Canada’s 2-1 victory over Japan, their last pre-World Cup tune up
Another interesting profile of Canada keeper Milan Borjan and his gregarious style
And a look back at how John Herdman got to where he is today with the national team
More deets on the Apple TV/MLS platform, set to roll out in February of next year