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Coffee with the Caps, Monday March 14

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MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Houston Dynamo FC Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Good Monday morning Caps fans, hope the non-football watching parts of your weekend were enjoyable enough because, oof, that match sucked.

It is a little tough to make out how panicked to be about this team, following a 2-1 loss to Houston that represented a good opportunity to nab a first win of the season.

No Brian White and a porous midfield made facing Darwin Quintero a daunting prospect, however, and he did not disappoint, bagging two goals, one of which will likely be goal of the week.

The Caps have question marks up and down the field, yet you get the sense that they are still a team that is only a couple pieces away from being the team we hoped for and the team they were for much of the second half of last season.

White’s injury certainly is a part of that, as is the absence of Caio Alexandre, who will add a lot to the midfield when he returns to the starting XI. A shopping spree for another midfielder is a must and it seems like the front office is obliging, kicking the tires on some potential DPs.

That’s important because I appear to have whiffed badly in my hope that Russell Teibert would continue his positive trajectory under Vanni Sartini. Leo Owusu has had his moments but the pair have been near invisible defensively and it has asked a lot of the backline. Sure, the defense has made their fair share of miscues (the first Houston goal, anyone?) but one wonders what a more cohesive midfield and wingback setup will do. Particularly given that Ranko Veselinovic and Tristan Blackmon have looked pretty darn good this far.

It was good to see Lucas Cavallini get back on the scoresheet, much less celebrate the occasion with his manager, a nice moment that underscores the hunger from everyone involved to get the most out of Cava. Maybe it was playing as a lone striker but Cava continues to be a bit of a wild card, dropping deep seemingly at will and even spraying out to the left or right to receive balls and try and beat defenders. The problem is this takes him out of his most useful role (sitting in the box waiting to pounce on the ball), unless Sartini can divine a system that lets Lucas Cavallini cross the ball to Lucas Cavallini (seems tough, IMO).

We’re three games in — no one should be giving up on this team. But it underscores that sometime between Kansas City, Kan. last November and Columbus, Ohio three weeks ago, the magic for Sartini is over. He has the ability and the squad (with some reinforcements) to get a lot out of this team. But there will not be a second chapter of a fairytale — success will have to be earned and a new plan devised on how to get there.

Meanwhile, a trip to LAFC awaits, which might be another rude awakening for the Caps, plus the whole #narrative surrounding Maxime Crepeau. After that, they have an international break to figure things out and get some new bodies in before things really pick up. Onward and upward, folks.

Shameless Self Promotion

The honeymoon is over for Sartini, as Sam Rowan put it in his report card. We have the post-mortem post game recap on a tough match.

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Real Salt Lake shocked the New England Revolution in one of the snowiest games I can remember in recent memory

Meanwhile, Toronto FC lost ... again, as did Montreal. Meaning the Caps aren’t the worst team in Canada anyway?