Hello darkness my old friend.
Good Monday morning Caps fans, and I suspect a good number of us are sitting around here at our desks, sipping coffee and wondering “We waited all offseason for that?!?”
The joy of a 12th season of MLS soccer in Vancouver quickly gave way to a familiar pain — indeed, the 4-0 loss to Columbus to kick off the season had all the familiar hallmarks of the Marc dos Santos era.
Chaotic defending, toothless attacking, a midfield that was largely overrun, some potentially questionable personnel decisions — ah, they all ring so familiar.
There are, of course, several levels to the loss on Saturday.
The ugly one is that there were few positives to take away and the real glaring deficiency — questionable wingback play and disorganization at the back — gets at some of the exact same limitations the team had last year. The fact that Thomas Hasal, who had a credible start to his tenure as the main man, is in goal over Maxime Crepeau will only heighten anxieties and the youngster is presumably fuming for being set up to fail by his defense on Saturday.
The bad angle is that the Caps have a tricky run of fixtures to start the season. A match away to Houston is easily the most gettable and is the closest thing there is to a must-win at this stage of the year.
But the home opener, doing battle with the defending champions, NYCFC, is not the recipe for curing the ills that ailed the Caps in Columbus. Further matches against LAFC (ah the narrative) and Sporting KC will be tough as well.
One match is, of course, not enough to spell doom. But Vanni Sartini will be looking to pull together some answers in a hurry. It wouldn’t surprise me to see some significant changes to the starting XI on Saturday and Sebastian Berhalter and Pedro Vite made a convincing case for their inclusion. No Jake Nerwinski (sigh, don’t get me started) will mean a change in the backline as well, one which might be a blessing in disguise.
Brian White may well be back from injury as well, which would mean the world for this side, which clearly needed someone who could make a straightforward run and collect a ball in over the top of a Columbus backline that was playing pretty high up the pitch.
While it was a season opener to forget, there is, of course, plenty of time for improvement. Columbus, while a team that is better than their 2021 results, is the type of team the Caps want to be considered a peer. A 4-0 defeat is a blow to the ego but it is worth remembering this team has had bigger setbacks in the last two years and was able to rebound. Let’s hope a date with the defending champions sets the stage for another such comeback.
Shameless Self Promotion
If you want to harken back to simpler times before the Caps got rocked, Sam Rowan previews what 2022 has in store. Meanwhile, all of our writers make bold predictions about what the season will look like, which I’m sure will all come true and make us look good.
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In other results this weekend: Toronto FC drew 1-1 with FC Dallas, while New England and Portland ended in a 2-2 thriller. Meanwhile, a late Javier Hernandez goal saw LA Galaxy past the defending champs NYCFC 1-0