Good Monday morning Caps fans, hope you all are settling in after a lovely and relaxing weekend.
The match Saturday night may not have been relaxing per se, but it featured some of the most aesthetically pleasing football Vancouver has played all year, powering them to a long-awaited win over Seattle, something which hasn’t happened since 2017.
The headlines will focus on the brilliant creativity of Ryan Gauld, the daring runs of Pedro Vite and a volley from Julian Gressel that will almost certainly be the Caps’ goal of the season. And deservedly so — those guys were in scintillating form and it is fun to imagine what a full offseason of them building chemistry might mean for next season.
But this match was a true team effort. Credit to Leonard Owusu, who came on for Andres Cubas after an apparent abductor injury. That was the moment when many expected things to unravel, as they have at other times without Cubas this season. But Owusu and Russell Teibert did a credible job in midfield and the backline was nicely compact, shutting down a good number of Sounders’ attacking moves with ease.
The intensity from the entire team was there from the word “go,” a far cry from some of the sleepwalking performances the Caps have had this year. This was undoubtedly helped by Saturday being the best attended match of the year, something which was evident from TV and reflected in the high energy play.
The 4-2-2-2 again shone and surely should be what the Caps use moving forward to build around. Jake Nerwinski played a bit more conservatively, allowing Luis Martins to bomb forward and turn in a quality performance for the second straight match.
This meant the Caps were playing at times with what was functionally a back three, just with more control in the center of the park and more players to throw forward on counter attacking moves. Vanni Sartini deserves credit for both sticking with the formation and telling his team to play aggressively throughout the second half, keeping their foot on the pedal against a Seattle team that was struggling to defend in transition.
Indeed, the Caps could have had more goals and — depending on who you ask — did get a third goal, after Brian White nudged a shot that Stefan Frei scooped off the line, though in real time it appeared the ball had crossed over.
MLS, however, has no goal line technology, the increasingly standard technology that is being adopted around the world to avoid situations just like this. Further replays were inconclusive and I don’t really blame VAR from refusing to give a goal — none of the camera angles were particularly good and provided a clear shot of the ball completely crossing the line.
In my opinion, I think the ball did cross over. I think you can see a bit of daylight between the goal line and the ball in the below freeze frame — but I can’t be sure and neither can anyone else.
It is embarrassing for a league of MLS’ caliber to be without at least an overhead camera angle to definitively tell what is going on. Had Seattle found an equalizer, Caps’ fans would have been apoplectic and it is in large part because we would never 100% know if it was a goal or not. Better cameras or the implementation of goal line technology would ensure that fans wouldn’t be left fighting amongst themselves over this most basic of questions.
The good news? We don’t have to spend any time worrying about this. The Caps took care of business and their playoff hopes remain alive, although unlikely. Their remaining schedule isn’t bad, however. They play an Austin FC team that, while potent, has already clinched a home playoff match and they get them in Vancouver. They then take on a Minnesota United side that has been in poor form.
The playoffs are unlikely but a chance to end the season with a flourish is not. And, if all else fails, if the Caps miss out on a postseason appearance, they made sure to take Seattle down with them and that’s about all you could ask for at this point.
Shameless Self Promotion
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