Good Friday morning Caps fans, hope you all had a pleasant week and are gearing up for a bit of a break this weekend.
This weekend marks the return of the Whitecaps after a one-week hiatus, with a Canadian derby on tap. I may regret saying this, but Toronto FC are one of the few teams who have been equally or more disappointing than Vancouver. So it should be a chance for the Caps to begin to claw back some points and gain some momentum — though those could be famous last words.
The team did not sit idly by as the MLS trade deadline passed by, however. The Caps went out and acquired Portuguese left back Luis Martins, formerly of Sporting Kansas City. Martins was out of contract so this was not a trade per se, but was a last throw of the dice to gain some depth before the window slammed shut.
Martins is just that — a depth piece. Anyone who expects anything more is begging to be disappointed but it is safe to say that expectations are higher than they would otherwise be given the team’s position in the standings and the front office brass’ ability to dig up some good inter-MLS acquisitions.
His Benfica pedigree belies what was a rather tepid career in Kansas City, though he had one of the highest work rates of any fullback in the league, which was surely something that endeared him to Vanni Sartini and Axel Schuster.
Martins also shines in another very specific area — he is good at progressing the ball up the pitch and is a very good accurate of the ball. He is in the 90th-plus percentile in most all of those categories on Football Reference and this is likely another attribute that made him very attractive, given that the Caps have struggled in this sense with their fullbacks this season.
His ability to pick out an accurate cross or pass when he enters the final third, however, is average at best, meaning this won’t be the guy who suddenly starts pinging balls into Lucas Cavallini and Brian White.
His defensive numbers are pretty average, though he’s good at pressuring to win the ball back, another trait he shares in common with recent acquisitions and another way in which he fits the system to a tee.
Playing as a wingback should in theory accentuate the strengths of his game, while helping to cover up his more pedestrian defensive qualities.
The need for a player who can help move the ball into the final third is certainly there but I’m not sure one who gets caught out and causes problems for the midfield (I’ve seen that movie before ...), nor one who gets the ball forward and can’t get it to a forward, are really going to help solve the problems with this team.
This isn’t Martins’ fault; he seems like a guy who should be a decent enough depth piece, allowing Cristian Dajome to move back to being a forward and rotating with Cristian Gutierrez.
Maybe he will come in and be a revelation. After all, the track record is there (we shouldn’t forget Sebastian Berhalter either) and worst case, the Caps cut bait at the end of the year and move on with minimal impact. Best case, he’s a piece that can be useful or moved on for profit.
But in comparison to Brian White and Florian Jungwirth, it seems like a stretch to see how Martins is going to be impactful enough to really change the trajectory of this season. That’s unfair but speaks to how the Caps probably needed to make more than one move in addition to bringing on Andres Cubas to help retool.
Best of the Rest
No matter what happens on Sunday, the Caps won the banter side of the rivalry
♻️ MERCH SWAP ♻️— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) May 4, 2022
Just moved here from Toronto? Come support your home team on May 8th and we’d be happy to set you up with some gear #VWFC
Seattle Sounders broke MLS’ duck and deservedly claimed the CONCACAF Champions League title and a berth in the FIFA Club World Cup
A look at what other clubs can learn from the Sounders’ success
MLS (and the Caps) have an official NFT partner and I now feel like an old man