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Coffee with the Caps, Monday July 25

MLS: Chicago Fire 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 a pleasant week ahead.

Well, Vancouver had never lost to the Chicago Fire at home ... until Saturday night.

The match was, in part, a casualty of the bigger clash that lies ahead: Tuesday’s Canadian Championship at home against Toronto FC, who clearly had no such qualms about rolling out a stronger lineup to smash Charlotte FC 4-0.

That’s what meant we only saw 45 minutes of Ryan Gauld, Andres Cubas and Julian Gressel, who made his Caps debut in the nick of time.

But even still, Marcos Godinho accurately described the Caps’ performance when he said the team entered “in their sleep.” Whether this is simply looking ahead to a cup final or overlooking a Fire team that, on paper, Vancouver should have been able to beat (peep the 86F predictions in the pre-match), well, that’s unclear.

“The Cup, of course, you want to win the Cup,” Godinho said after the match, in a surprisingly strong statement. “But getting into the playoffs is important as well. And we had the opportunity to really close that gap today and unfortunately too many guys weren’t there, weren’t at it today.”

Vanni Sartini effectively agreed with that sentiment, calling it their worst performance of the season and it is difficult to dispute that. The forwards were disengaged, the defense disorganized and, as Godinho described, mentally the team just wasn’t there.

This doesn’t have to mean the Caps will be thrown off their game as they prepare for Tuesday’s final. This is a mentally resilient team that has launched comeback after comeback this season, with a half-dozen late goals to earn results. They won’t be fazed by Toronto FC’s big money Italian movement, nor the headiness of a cup final.

A full-strength team, with Julian Gressel more engaged than he looked on Saturday night, can hang with their Eastern Conference brethren. And while the Caps management doesn’t always get things right, they do appear to be working hard to ensure BC Place is full and loud to help give Vancouver a lift.

Will I be nervous as hell? Absolutely. The paradox that comes with the Caps being better is I a feel those butterflies before a big match and am actually disappointed — as opposed to expectant — when things don’t go according to plan. With any luck, that won’t be the case in Friday’s column.

Shameless Self Promotion

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