Good Monday morning Caps fans, hope you all had a lovely weekend and are getting mentally prepared for the week ahead.
It was an unexpected three points for Vancouver over the weekend, dispatching FC Dallas after a pretty darn good hour of football followed by a nervy half-hour. Unexpected because the 86 Forever writers in making our predictions have by-and-large elected to assume any road game is a loss so any departure from those expectations is a bit of a surprise.
The reason things changed so markedly for the Caps around the 60th minute was because of the substitution of new man Andres Cubas, who made his full debut in Frisco. Early reviews for Paraguayan are in and they are overwhelmingly positive.
Numerous times over the course of the match on Saturday did Cubas either make an interception, position himself well enough to force a pass that someone else intercepted or apply enough pressure to force a turnover. Despite some uncertainty based on his Ligue 1 stats, he appears very comfortable carrying the ball forward after making an interception and launching a counter attack.
Early in the match, FC Dallas tried to do what other teams have done against the Caps to success — just ram the ball up the middle and make something happen in the final third. Previously, the porous midfield put a lot of pressure on the back three and opponents were able to exploit that.
Not Dallas. Upon realizing that Cubas was changing things, they had to try something different and were largely unsuccessful in pushing play out wide until Cubas and Tristan Blackmon exited the match. They briefly attempted to go after Florian Jungwirth with some success but then inexplicably moved away from that.
The point is, the Caps were able to influence the tactical approach of their opponents in a positive way, forcing them to play in a way that was less comfortable. This was largely down to Cubas and is the first time in awhile I can remember it happening.
The funny thing is I would not call is a dominant performance from Cubas, merely a very good one. It just so happens that Caps fans are totally preconditioned not to expect this kind of a performance from a holding midfielder. His level of play was so high that Russell Teibert largely didn’t have much to do — Cubas did the job well enough for two players.
There is always danger in tagging a new signing with too high of expectations, particularly when he is still building up his fitness levels. Cubas won’t be a panacea that will magically lift the Caps to a playoff spot. But if Saturday’s result is any indication, he can be a big part of another second-half turnaround, much as Ryan Gauld was last season.
Shameless Self Promotion
Meanwhile Caleb has an update on who is making an impression for the Whitecaps 2 side.
Best of the Rest
The aforementioned Whitecaps 2 also had a good weekend in the Metroplex, beating North Texas SC 3-1
Canada’s U-20 side fell to Cuba at the CONCACAF championships in a strange match