Good Monday morning Caps fans, and a happy May to you all to boot. It finally feels like springtime here and hopefully the flowers (but not the showers) are in full bloom by you.
It was a quiet weekend for the senior team, without a match and all, but that meant more time to focus on the Thundercaps 2.0, who picked up another win in MLS NEXT Pro play, and I actually had time to catch part of it.
If the struggles of the first team have got you down, well, I would encourage you to spend some time watching the reserves, as the matches are easy to tune into and there is a bit of talent that makes it worth your while to tune in.
Now, Saturday’s 2-0 win over San Jose Earthquakes II is a bit different, as three members of the first team dropped down to the reserves to take part, owing to the off-week. Pedro Vite even banged in a lovely goal to seal the match away in stoppage time, something that will hopefully give him a bit of confidence when the real matches resume again next weekend.
But the actual regulars on the WFC2 side have done pretty well for themselves also. If you haven’t, I’d encourage you to read Caleb’s breakdown of the trendlines for the young players as there are absolutely some guys there who should have a chance at breaking into the first team this season.
Emiliano Brienza grabbed his second goal of the season last week against Sporting KC II and has been a pretty consistent attacking threat. If the first team needs to move on from Tosaint Ricketts as a late match sub, Brienza seems like a guy who has done a lot with his time in the reserves.
Both Matteo and Cristian Campagna are guys who have gotten first team looks in the past and both have similarly impressed. Cristian Campagna in particular seems like he has done well with all the things the senior side asks its centerbacks to do — cut out crosses, clog up the middle and generally make life difficult for the opposition in and around the penalty area. It is not inconceivable that injuries and suspensions could see both of those guys get the call to the senior team.
I don’t have to wax poetic about Ali Ahmed here, as I think most Caps fans are on the same page about his quality. The one upside of a messy start to the season was seeing Ahmed make his debut, where he looked generally confident and not out-of-place — confidence forged, no doubt, from a strong start to the season in the reserves and the general certainty in life that comes from being 21 years of age. Given some of the questions that have been asked about the wingback situation, one would hope Ahmed keeps getting crucial exposure to the first team.
Indeed, a player like Ahmed is why it is so vital to have the reserve league, or some form of organized developmental system for younger players. Being able to have a guy with a foot in both worlds is a marked improvement for development, rather than having to search for a loan deal (which Ahmed might well need at some point) at a USL or CPL side that might not be a good fit or else risk a young player languishing in the youth setup.
Stagnation of homegrown players has become a regular complaint of the fan base and rightfully so. For those who are “glass half full” kind of people, a promising start for the Thundercaps (yeah, I know they play somewhere else now but old habits die hard) is perhaps a sign that the cupboard is not bare and there are some guys who could make a first team impact, potentially even later this season.
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