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Coffee with the Caps, Monday June 6

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Good Monday morning Caps fans, hope you all had an enjoyable weekend and are gearing up for what the week has in store.

Hopefully you had a better weekend than Canada Soccer. As most all of you surely know by now, the Canada/Panama match scheduled for this weekend was chalked off after the players went on strike, criticizing shoddy leadership, delayed negotiations and an inadequate offer from the federation for player pay.

The federation is claiming poverty, arguing that despite booming interest in the sport and a World Cup berth, they would be unable to pay the players and support the myriad other football programs it must underwrite.

By contrast, the Whitecaps look a model of efficient management

Actually playing at BC Place this weekend, their good run of form continued with a 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake Saturday and with it continued their run of relatively good fortune (provided we exclude injuries from the conversation). A decent performance was rewarded with a stoppage time penalty, coolly converted by Ryan Gauld and it is the third match in recent memory where a spot kick was the difference.

Is this sustainable? Probably not. But I think we do need to note the fact that the performance against a quietly elite RSL side was pretty strong — worthy of a result and not the bunker and pray strategy employed against Sporting KC.

The good news is ample: we are approaching a Ryan Gauld, Caio Alexandre, Andres Cubas midfield. The fact that things have already improved by the forced absence of Russell Teibert (get well soon Rusty) is missing the bigger picture: the midfield will soon be able to stand on its own merits. Seb Berhalter and some of the other midfield pieces will be even more impactful in small doses, when they aren’t asked to be in the starting XI week in and week out.

And we should credit Cody Cropper for coming up big against RSL and, really, repeatedly since being called into duty after Thomas Hasal went down with injury.

Looking at Cropper’s goals-added and he is a noticeable improvement over Hasal statistically, though one most also remember a couple blowouts that weren’t the younger’s fault that hold his stats back.

Still, given that many (myself included) were frustrated a better backup option didn’t emerge after the sudden departure of Maxime Crepeau and Evan Newton. Cropper was viewed as scraps left over for domestic backup keepers.

But it turns out Cropper has been motivated and is channeling Crepeau more than Hasal has this season. You can’t pin the improvement in play to his entrance as starter but it certainly has given a bit more of a margin of error when you can get a goal saving save every match.

The question becomes whether Cropper should supplant Hasal even when he is healed. It is unclear when that will be so this is an academic debate for the time being. But I think you can make a strong argument on form for the backup to move up the depth chart — Cropper is even an upgrade in terms of distribution (look at his prudent quick toss to spur on the counter than led to the penalty).

It’ll be interesting to monitor his performance going forward and whether his form balances out the argument for continuing to support Hasal’s development. There are certainly errors (Cropper made a big one Saturday before recovering) but it appears the Caps have stumbled on a journeyman with something to prove.

Shameless Self Promotion

We break down the Caps’ fourth win in five and rate whether the performances were adequately Andiamo. And Sam Rowan asks the question we’ve all been wondering: Are the Caps kinda, sorta, maybe good again?

Best of the Rest

More on what will surely be a developing story regarding the standoff between Canada Soccer and the national team.

And a look at what the discord says about the federation as a whole, which has taken a number of black eyes recently

Toronto FC are the winners of the 2020 Canadian Championship. No, that is not a typo.

Here are a few reasons the Caps could keep their good form chugging along