Good Monday morning Caps fans and happy August — summer is flying right by.
The Caps avoided an emotional letdown after the cup win in the midweek by eking out a 1-1 draw away at Nashville SC on Saturday night, coincidentally also the first time the two teams have ever met.
That result was probably a pretty fair representation of the match. After a poor first 20-25 minutes, the Caps settled in and started creating chances, eventually culminating in Javain Brown’s equalizer. Then, it was a hectic finish to the match in which they were lucky not to concede again (thanks be to Cody Cropper).
It was one that Vanni Sartini will certainly take, particularly given the faceplant that can often happen coming off a big emotional high. A road point against a likely playoff team is never one you throw back.
But the sting of another week without a win will hurt given that the Caps have struggled at home as of late, with two straight 3-1 losses at BC Place. With 11 matches left in the regular season, it is starting to get towards go time if grabbing a playoff spot is going to pan out.
That means finding a way to win matches, which means chance creation needs to continue to improve. Julian Gressel has clearly helped on this front, though he has shown more glimpses of how he can help boost the attack in his first few matches.
But too often in the Nashville match there would be a nice move that would culminate with a shot from distance, rather than something worked inside the box. And I would argue that match was an improvement on this front from previous games.
Ryan Gauld firing on all cylinders was a big reason why — he has continued his excellent form and is resembling the player that was one of MLS’ elite late last season. His start to the year wasn’t poor by any means but he had a few stinkers and those have pretty much gone by the wayside. To get on a hot streak to make the playoffs, the Caps’ best players showing up is vital and Gauld is doing that.
Credit to Vancouver for never giving up — they have the most result-changing goals of any team in the league after the 85th minute. As a fan, that mentality is exactly what you want.
But a slow first 20 minutes has become the norm and it is really digging them into holes. The Caps had this problem last season too and were able to overcome it but Sartini’s arrival saw them start taking it to teams a bit more at the start of games. They need to find a way back to this.
Tuesday in the Voyageurs Cup showed us what the Caps can be as a team. They’ve shown glimpses of that this season but Saturday reminded us of what they have been for much of the season. Bridging that gap is the only way to secure a playoff berth.
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