Good Monday morning Caps fans, hope you all had a pleasant weekend and are back ready and raring to go.
The 2022 Vancouver Whitecaps are officially off the mark, squaring off against Club Tijuana in a preseason friendly in San Diego Sunday. While the match was mostly against the reserves for the Liga MX side, it was a good start to the quartet of tune up matches they will play in sunny Southern California.
They will next be in action on Feb. 9 against New Mexico United at 1 p.m. PT, with a follow up against local side San Diego Loyal on Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. They will then test themselves against an MLS rival, LA Galaxy, behind closed doors on Feb 16 at 1:30 p.m.
While I gave the match times, there are no indications as of yet that there will be live streams of these games, meaning the ability to glean likely meaningless scraps of information (as all good Whitecaps sickos will want to do) will be a bit limited.
There are no real surprises on the roster, with a handful of U-23 guys in the mix. Keeper Max Anchor, fullback Ali Ahmed, midfielder Vasco Fry and forward Emiliano Brienza round out the youngsters training with the first team. Fans should be especially tantalized by seeing Ali Ahmed getting a bit of a look, though he will likely make his home with the MLS Next Pro side this season.
Two SuperDraft players made the cut. One, Simon Becher, the Caps’ first round pick, was not a surprise but Gio Aguilar, one of the team’s second round picks who I assumed was also destined for Next Pro limbo. His skillset would seem to make him an appealing option to Vanni Sartini’s system, which might be why he’s getting an extra look, though I wouldn’t expect him to be getting many, if any, first team minutes this year. But, hey, weirder things have happened.
As for the match itself Sunday? The Caps used goals from Leonard Owusu and Tosaint Ricketts to nab a 2-2 draw (a third goal was chalked off for offsides). We don’t know much about the match aside from the goals, which I posted below, and I cannot urge the Caps enough to set up some sort of stream (or at least extended highlights) for future matchups, as a service to fans if nothing else.
The Caps also appeared to mess around with a different formation, making good use of the preseason. That includes Ryan Raposo getting a run out at wingback, which I actually kind of am intrigued by. Dude has a decent workrate and showed good pace in college, so I think there is some potential. This is a make-or-break year for Raposo in Vancouver so it will be interesting if this is a permanent thing from Vanni Sartini or if it is a “well it’s the preseason so let’s toss some stuff against the wall and see what sticks” kind of decision.
As an aside, it was nice to see Tos Ricketts on the scoresheet. He got limited minutes last season but it is good to see him back as a non-roster invitee for camp. If Brian White and Lucas Cavallini aren’t firing on all cylinders, it is unlikely Tos will be either but he will be a very cheap, very domestic option to have on the bench to toss on in games where the Caps are behind. He also is a good presence in the locker room and while I was initially pretty ambivalent about the idea of him returning, there isn’t a ton of downside here.
All-in-all, there is a certain thrill about having the boys back in earnest and it will be interesting to see what we get on Tuesday against New Mexico United.
Best of the Rest
A bit more on what to expect from the Caps’ preseason jaunt
DC United is reportedly in talks to sign former Manchester City and Boca Juniors striker Carlos Tevez, who I can’t believe is still playing football. Meanwhile, Chicago Fire are closing in on Xherdan Shaqiri
Whitecaps’ legend Lee Nguyen has officially retired