Good Monday morning Caps fans, hope you all are gearing up for smooth sailing heading into the weekend.
It was a pretty good workweek for Vancouver, all things considered, but it was not without some (totally expected) bad news also.
Because I’ve always been a believer in the bad news first, we’ll start there. In a move that had been coming for some time, the Caps loaned Caio Alexandre to Fortaleza EC until the end of the season.
There doesn’t appear to be a buy option for the Brazilian club (potentially because they may well get relegated out of Seria A) but it seems hard to imagine Alexandre continuing on in Vancouver after rumblings that he is home sick. Given where he has been in the pecking order for Vanni Sartini after he returned from injury, the feeling appears to be mutual.
Regardless of what might be going on behind the scenes, this is a blow for a player that many (myself included) had high hopes for when he migrated to Vancouver in 2021. His skill set and passing abilities seemed delectable and exactly what had been missing from the center of the park. His time in Brazil seemed like something that he could easily build upon in MLS — after all, it was after Joao Paulo had successfully made the transition in Seattle — and he seemed like a guy who could be headed to Europe before long.
Instead injuries kept rearing their ugly head and we never got a real sense of what Alexandre could offer. Much like Erik Godoy, this was neither the fault of the player, nor the club.
But Alexandre was projected by many to be a guy that could come in and make a difference for the Caps this year. The idea of him pairing with Andres Cubas, once that transaction was made, was tantalizing. But instead we were stuck with some combination of Russell Teibert and Leonard Owusu, with Alexandre on the outs.
There is something to be said for the manager not wanting to go with a guy who isn’t in the right headspace — they see training and we don’t really, after all. But the fact that the Caps have moved on or will move on three guys who were expected to be starters and key contributors is a rather damning indictment of how their season has gone.
The fact they’re still hanging on for dear life in the playoff race is impressive in light of this and while their recruitment has also hit on a number of wins, it will perhaps be a frustrating footnote to a 2022 season where Alexandre, Godoy and Cristian Gutierrez were expected to be key cogs and were instead replaced by inferior players.
Nonetheless, the Caps showed what a first choice starting XI can mean for their chances, as they used a rare burst of good form in the first half to beat out the Colorado Rapids 2-1 on Wednesday night.
Those two goals were courtesy of Ryan Gauld, who was scintillating, really benefiting from playing with guys who were matching his energy. Sebastian Berhalter pinged some great balls and, combined with Julian Gressel, really helped feed Gauld and the attacking band, to great effect. On another night Gauld would have had some assists and the Caps would have been clear of the Rapids by the time the 60th minute mark rolled around.
But because this is Vancouver, the Caps got a bit sluggish with a half hour remaining, conceded a goal and were lucky not to concede an equalizer. They were still the better team and a deserved winner but the sloppy defending and consistent mishandling of the Rapids’ one dynamic player, Jonathan Lewis, will be seen as some cause for concern.
Still, it is one of the first instances in some time where the Caps comprehensively outplayed the opposition — they did look really good for the first hour, even if a lot of that was boosted by some Rapids miscues (which, in fairness, stemmed from some well-orchestrated pressure from the Caps).
And, as an aside, it was good to see Thomas Hasal back and looking comfortable out there. I’m not sure about his long term future but he put in a solid shift and seemed to shake off the rust pretty quickly. If he retains his place as the first choice keeper, the Caps will need more of the same down the stretch.
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