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Coffee with the Caps, Monday February 27

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MLS: Real Salt Lake at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Good Monday morning Caps fans. Hope you all are rested and ready for the week ahead and that the beginning of March brings more spring weather than the past few days.

It didn’t take long for the Whitecaps to bring whatever modicum of expectations you set for this season to crash back down to earth.

In some ways, this was a more demoralizing loss than last year’s drubbing on the road in Columbus, which was certainly a rude awakening to begin the season.

But Saturday’s performance confirmed in my mind what the worst-case scenario for this team was entering the year: A team with some nice build-up play and some good looks in transition but one which is largely helpless in the final third — and where the defensive miscues that plagued the squad last season don’t entirely disappear.

The fact that the Caps should have been 2 or 3-nil up is perhaps a good sign — there are times last year where the team could have played for hours or days without creating the number of chances that fell their way in the first 45 minutes of Saturday night.

But the defensive errors were frustrating for a team that showed such signs of improvement on that front during the preseason.

In some sense this was a personnel problem — I thought Javain Brown was better than some others may have but he had a couple rough moments. Luis Martins is seemingly unnecessary when we have the other attacking options on the field and his defense is ... not great.

Indeed, I thought Vanni Sartini missed the boat with a lot of what he did on Saturday, as anyone who read the post-match report will surely have noticed. Not starting Mathias Laborda, Pedro Vite and (to some extent) Sergio Cordova were poor decisions, some of which may well be rectified in time to take on San Jose Earthquakes next weekend.

But the fact that Sartini didn’t make the needed adjustments, only letting the team sit back and play off their back foot as RSL slowly got into the match, probably is what let the match fully slip away.

The season is certainly a process and I’m not going to be that guy who overreacts based off of one match.

The Caps have not started matches well in recent years, so it was encouraging that they emerged on the front foot and took control of the game. Yohei Takaoka was a revelation and seems like he will continue to develop as he gains a better understanding of MLS and his defenders. And Ryan Gauld and Andres Cubas remain pretty, pretty good.

A look at what is hopefully the Caps’ best XI in San Jose (featuring Laborda, Vite and Cordova) will perhaps give a better look at the ceiling of this team. The team surely will be focusing on avoiding a repeat of their cataclysmic start to last season and three points against a moderately improved Quakes side will be important in getting things back on track in the right direction.

If you’re not nervous about what Saturday night’s opener could say about this team, well, you’re probably not a Caps fan. But for now, remember this will be the busiest season in recent memory between league play, the CCL, Voyageurs Cup and Leagues Cup. Plenty of time for memories (the good kind) to be made.

Shameless Self Promotion

Trying to figure out what went wrong on Saturday? Our post-match and report card has the gory week one details.

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