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Coffee with the Caps, Monday September 5

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at San Jose Earthquakes Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Good Monday morning Caps fans. Whether you are in the United States or Canada, hope you are enjoying the Labo(u)r Day holiday and that your week is getting off to a good start.

It was a trying performance from the Caps again on Sunday, falling 2-0 to the San Jose Earthquakes in a match that immediately prompted a firestorm on the social medias.

This is understandable. The hits just keep coming for Vancouver, leaving them behind their Western Conference rivals and leaving a (very) sour taste in the mouths of supporters.

This has led to open questions about Vanni Sartini’s job, as well as whether some players (i.e Ryan Gauld) will look to bail altogether, leaving the Caps even more behind the eight ball than they already are.

In some sense this is an overreaction, albeit a somewhat logical one. This has been a frustrating season and seeing the Caps back across the finish line magnifies that.

But the Quakes match was a weird one. Vancouver wasn’t good, to be sure, but San Jose was extremely efficient with the chances they had and, after they parked the bus for most of the second half, resembled the Caps in a few of their wins this season. Vancouver certainly had the chances to try and get something out of this but were ultimately left wanting.

This wasn’t a case where the players just gave up, in my assessment. Some of the poor performances were from guys like Javain Brown, who have been generally good this season. Indeed, if Brian White buries a 1v1 with about a half hour remaining in the match, they could have sparked a turnaround.

Yeah, there was bad body language and that seemed to bleed into the team’s play as the match wore on. But instead, the match was emblematic of the lack of consistency that has plagued the Caps this season.

For a stretch of games, the Caps were clinical and efficient and could have gotten a result with the chances they were given on Sunday, even with the 2-0 deficit. For others, they looked listless and imprecise, much like they did against the Quakes. In others, they were out to sea altogether.

I do think some of this is a reflection of an inexperienced coaching staff. Vanni Sartini and Co. forced Axel Schuster’s hand in giving him an extension but Axel never quite seemed convinced he was the longterm answer and you could imagine him wanting someone with a bit more experience, a bit more command.

Given that, I could see him pulling the trigger on searching for a new manager, particularly given that the winter World Cup could leave some managers with national team experience in search of work. And I could see Caps fans welcoming the move, hoping to capitalize on the relatively narrow window this team is working with before guys like Julian Gressel time out.

Whether this is fair is another question. A playoff appearance and trophy would probably be enough for fans (and management) to give a more experienced or high profile manager the benefit of the doubt. Sartini has had a number of things outside of his control that damaged his ability to trot out his first choice XI.

Yet Sartini has had a widely noted affinity for inferior players, even when that first choice XI was available. We don’t get to see training obviously but one wonders how long Schuster is going to be happy handing Sartini players like Tristan Blackmon, Caio Alexandre, Pedro Vite and others, only to see them sit on the bench at the expense of weaker depth players.

The problem is no one really hates Vanni. He’s likable, forthright and passionate, as well as pretty good looking without a shirt on. He doesn’t have the quality Marc dos Santos or Carl Robinson had at the end of their tenures. And, at some point, managers coming and going but results staying the same is a reflection on bigger forces from within the organization.

I’ll disappoint all the hot take merchants when I say that I don’t yet have a strong opinion n what Vanni’s fate should be. While the remaining few matches won’t likely be instructive, nor matter in the playoff race, I do want to see what kind of wrinkles he rolls out to try and regain control of the ship. If he can’t, well, then maybe it is time to move on.

Shameless Self Promotion

My report card is still forthcoming but Caleb has a nice dissection of the weirdness of Sunday’s match in his post-match recap.

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